The question or rather the comparison of all Airlines worldwide is rather unfair: You just cannot compare low-cost carrier like Ryan, Easy etc., that cover niche markets, to fully-grown network carrier like LH, AF or BA. Several reasons:
1. European niche carriers were hit the least hardest by sept. 11, as they do not cover transatlantic flights.
2. Currently markets are large enough for most Low-cost carriers, they don't have to compete against each other (at least in Europe, except UK). Wait until competition really starts, and we'll see new negative highlights in terms of maintenance, reliability.
So let us stay with the big boys' economies:
In terms of financial strength, we use the leverage ratio, that is net debt to EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes , depreciation and amortization, an indicator for operational cashflow):
Way up front: Lufthansa (3.5), SAS (4.5), (AF 4.7), BA and KLM are above 8 which is in most other industries the death sentence, though not necessarily in aviation: Both BA and KLM are not likely to encounter any cash shortages, as both have cash resources, if (!!) the duration of the current crisis does not go beyond 6-9 months.
There are several more reasons that indicate LH to be way ahead of the others: Their product portfolio much more diversified than that of any other carrier worldwide(Pax, Cargo, Catering, Tourism, IT, aircraft technology, each of the subsidies being well placed on their respective markets and therefore highly valuable). Of course some of these subsidies were hit rather hard by sept. 11 events like catering (No.1 supplier worldwide and especially in the US, where LH's market share is close to 50%), but in times like these a broadly diversified portfolio does pay in terms of financial risk.
On a worldwide scale, other companies that are economically strong, are Emirates (broad portfolio) and SQ (most efficient cost management in the world, LH is currently trying to follow, please remember: LH and SQ are close partners.). But again, I do not include:
1. low-cost carriers as they are a different lot
2. the possibilities, that some companies can count on their government to help them through any financial crisis (see Sabena for possible consequences).
I hope this little excursion into the realm of hard numbers does help.
I know it's only VfB but I like it!