German airline giant Lufthansa said Wednesday it was forced to cancel or delay flights across its airlines after construction work in Frankfurt caused a major IT outage.

Frankfurt airport, Lufthansa's main hub, said it had stopped most planes from landing to avoid overcrowding as thousands of passengers were unable to board flights.

Lufthansa said the IT systems failure had been caused by construction work in the Frankfurt region that had damaged broadband fiber-optic cables.

"Flight operations are expected to stabilise in the early evening," it added.

Lufthansa is Europe's biggest airline group. It also owns Eurowings, Swiss, Brussels and Austrian Airlines.

The group did not immediately specify how many flights or passengers were impacted globally but Frankfurt and Munich airports appeared among those most affected.

Deutsche Telekom said four of its cables had been "damaged" during construction work ordered by state-owned rail operator Deutsche Bahn in Frankfurt a day earlier.

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