Relatives of the 150 people killed when the co-pilot of a Germanwings plane deliberately flew into the French Alps one year ago observed a minute's silence near the crash site and in a small German town that lost a party of school pupils.

"We have come to Le Vernet to commemorate the victims and to pay them our respects," Carsten Spohr, the head of Germanwings parent company Lufthansa said Thursday in the French alpine village of Le Vernet.

"We cannot alleviate the unhappiness, but we can at least stand by the relatives," he said, as some 600 relatives of the victims gathered at the site.

In Haltern, in Germany's western Ruhr region, a memorial service with flowers and candles was held for the 16 pupils from the town's Joseph Koenig school and their two teachers killed in the crash.

"You are forever with us," was inscribed on a banner. A minute's silence was observed at 10:41 am (0941 GMT) in both Le Vernet and Haltern, and church bells were rung.

A public service was held in the Haltern's Catholic church on the central square, while in Le Vernet the service was for relatives only, many of whom had travelled from Germany.

"It is true that this accident has changed our town greatly. We have never experienced anything like this," Haltern Mayor Bodo Klimpel said.

"It is certainly the worst and most difficult thing to have happened to this town since World War II."

The school party from Haltern had been on an exchange visit to Spain and were on their way home aboard Flight 4U9525 when co-pilot Andreas Lubitz put the plane into a shallow dive, crashing it into a mountainside some 3 kilometres east of Le Vernet.

Lubitz, who was 27, crashed the Airbus A320 on March 24, 2015 as it was flying from Barcelona to Dusseldorf. Of those aboard the budget airline flight, 72 were from Germany and 51 from Spain.

Court proceedings are being initiated in the United States centring on the Lufthansa training facility in Arizona. Lubitz interrupted his training there in 2009 owing to mental health problems.

Ahead of Thursday's ceremony, Spohr said he was willing to look into a "constructive solution" to the case. "From the start we said we would show generosity, and we have shown generosity in the first year," he said.

The company has paid out 50,000 euros (55,000 dollars) for each victim. A further 25,000 euros is to be paid, and next-of-kin are to receive 10,000 euros.

Latest news

Syrian opposition rules out future role for President al-Assad

The Syrian opposition said Friday it would not accept any role for President Bashar al-Assad in the future of the war-torn country, reacting to a recent US shift saying that removing al-Assad is no longer a priority for Washington.

Russian Army integrates breakaway forces of Georgian province

Parts of the small fighting forces of the Georgian breakaway province of South Ossetia have been placed under Russian military control, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Friday.

Czech Republic's Pilsner Urquell beer is now Japanese

Japanese brewing company Asahi completed its takeover of the Czech brewery Pilsner Urquell on Friday, Asahi said in a statement.

Judge approves 25-million-dollar settlement of Trump University case

A US district judge on Friday approved a 25-million-dollar settlement of lawsuits and state fraud allegations against Trump University, the US president's now-defunct business venture.

Former Thai premier Thaksin to junta on reconciliation: 'Cut me out'

Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Friday announced that he is not interested in the junta-led reconciliation process, three days after the junta handed him a half-a-billion-dollar tax bill for his past business deal.

Dalic: We welcome possible deal between Agrokor and banks

The government welcomes the possibility of an agreement being concluded between the Agrokor food company and creditor banks, and the bill on vitally important companies is not a fallback plan but the result of the government's care for the overall economic and financial stability of Croatia, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Martina Dalic told a press conference in Zagreb on Friday.

Croatia, China sign action plan for cooperation in agriculture

The Croatian and Chinese ministries of agriculture on Friday signed an action plan for cooperation in the field of agriculture for the period 2017-2018, the Croatian ministry said in a statement.

ZSE indices up, Agrokor shares in focus of investor interest

The Zagreb Stock Exchange (ZSE) indices on Friday rose by more than 1.8%, with stocks of the Agrokor food and retail concern being in the focus of investor interest again.

Berlin police defend handling of Berlin market attacker

Berlin police defended themselves on Friday against accusations that they stopped surveillance on Berlin Christmas market attacker despite knowing in June 2016 he was dangerous.

Croatia, creditors tailor emergency measures to save tottering giant

Croatia's tottering retail and food giant Agrokor reached an agreement with its creditors, putting its debts standby and allowing it to continue working during emergency restructuring, the Croatian branch of Austria's Erste Bank said Friday.

Agrokor's creditors say standstill agreement to go into force today

A standstill agreement regarding the Agrokor concern's existing financial obligations to banks will take effect on Friday, additional capital will be injected into the concern in the coming days and the concern will be actively restructured, which includes a change of its management, it was said on Friday after a meeting between Agrokor's suppliers and creditor banks.

Palestinians, UN slam Israel's new settlement plan

Palestinians, Israeli activists and the UN lambasted the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday, a day after it gave the go-ahead for the first new West Bank settlement in a quarter of a century.

South Sudan rebels release three abducted foreign oil workers

South Sudanese rebels have released three foreign engineers they abducted in early March in the oil-rich Upper Nile region, Foreign Affairs Ministry official Mawein Makol Arik said on Friday.

Turkish opposition: Imprisoned party chief has gone on hunger strike

The head of Turkey's pro-Kurdish opposition party has launched a hunger strike from prison.

European leagues threaten Champions League schedule clashes

The European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) on Friday threatened schedule clashes on Champions League matchdays in an ongoing dispute with the governing body UEFA.

Danish court revokes citizenship of IS volunteer

A Danish appellate court on Friday stripped a man of his Danish citizenship for volunteering to fight for the extremist Islamic State in Syria.

Banks and Agrokor agree on key elements of standstill agreement

Member banks of the coordinating committee of financial creditors and representatives of the Agrokor food company have in principle agreed on key elements of a standstill agreement, which is expected to be signed later today, announcing changes in the company's management team, Erste Bank said in a statement on Friday afternoon.

Syrian man on trial in Sweden; mosque attack labelled terrorism

A Syrian man went on trial Friday in the southern Swedish city of Malmo, charged with terrorism and arson after an attack last year on a building used as an assembly hall by Shiite Muslims.