Hundreds gather in France to mark Germanwings crash anniversary

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Hundreds gather in France to mark Germanwings crash anniversary
Families of victims look at the Germanwings plane crash site one year after the crash, Thursday, March 24, 2016 in Le Vernet, France. Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz deliberately crashed a jet into the French Alps on March 24, 2015, while en route from Barcelona to Duesseldorf, killing all 150 people on board. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
Families of victims look at the Germanwings plane crash site one year after the crash, Thursday, March 24, 2016 in Le Vernet, France. Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz deliberately crashed a jet into the French Alps on March 24, 2015, while en route from Barcelona to Duesseldorf, killing all 150 people on board. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
Families of victims look at the Germanwings plane crash site one year after the crash, Thursday, March 24, 2016 in Le Vernet, France. Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz deliberately crashed a jet into the French Alps on March 24, 2015, while en route from Barcelona to Duesseldorf, killing all 150 people on board. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
Relatives and friends of victims walk on the Col in Le Vernet, southwestern France, on March 24, 2016, in front of the mountain (background) were the plane of Germanwings crashed a year ago, to mark the first anniversary of the Germanwings tragedy in which a suicidal pilot crashed a plane into a mountainside, killing all 150 on board. The ill-fated plane took off from Barcelona and was headed to Dusseldorf in Germany when German co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, 27, drove it into the ground on March 24, 2015. / AFP / BORIS HORVAT (Photo credit should read BORIS HORVAT/AFP/Getty Images)
Family of victims cry as they look at the Germanwings plane crash site one year after the crash, Thursday, March 24, 2016 in Le Vernet, France. Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz deliberately crashed a jet into the French Alps on March 24, 2015, while en route from Barcelona to Duesseldorf, killing all 150 people on board. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
A photo shows wreaths of flowers at the Vernet memorial, southwestern France, on March 24, 2016 during commemoration ceremonies to mark the first anniversary of the Germanwings tragedy in which a suicidal pilot crashed a plane into a mountainside, killing all 150 on board. The ill-fated plane took off from Barcelona and was headed to Dusseldorf in Germany when German co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, 27, drove it into the ground on March 24, 2015. / AFP / BORIS HORVAT (Photo credit should read BORIS HORVAT/AFP/Getty Images)
Relatives and friends of victims arrive for commemoration ceremonies at the memorial site in Le Vernet, southwestern France, on March 24, 2016, to mark the first anniversary of the Germanwings tragedy in which a suicidal pilot crashed a plane into a mountainside, killing all 150 on board. The ill-fated plane took off from Barcelona and was headed to Dusseldorf in Germany when German co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, 27, drove it into the ground on March 24, 2015. / AFP / BORIS HORVAT (Photo credit should read BORIS HORVAT/AFP/Getty Images)
Families of victims pay tribute in front of a stele during a ceremony marking one year after the Germanwings Airbus A320 crash, Thursday, March 24, 2016 in Le Vernet, France. Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz deliberately crashed a jet into the French Alps on March 24, 2015, while en route from Barcelona to Duesseldorf, killing all 150 people on board. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
People hold candles during a minute of silence on the square in front of the St. Sixtus Church in Haltern, Germany,Thursday March 24, 2016. 16 students and two teachers from the school were on board the Germanwings airplane that crashed March 24, 2015 en route from Barcelona to Duesseldorf. (Marcel Kusch/dpa via AP)
French gendarmes watch families of victims arriving at a ceremony marking one year after the Germanwings Airbus A320 crash, Thursday, March 24, 2016 in Le Vernet, France. Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz deliberately crashed a jet into the French Alps on March 24, 2015, while en route from Barcelona to Duesseldorf, killing all 150 people on board. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
Families of victims arrive at a ceremony marking one year after the Germanwings Airbus A320 crash, Thursday, March 24, 2016 in Le Vernet, France. Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz deliberately crashed a jet into the French Alps on March 24, 2015, while en route from Barcelona to Duesseldorf, killing all 150 people on board. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
Luftansa CEO Carsten Spohr (L), Germanwings CEO Thomas Winkelmann (R) and Stephanie Schroeder (C), representative of the German Transport ministry, lay a wreath of flowers at the Vernet memorial, southwestern France, on March 24, 2016 during commemoration ceremonies to mark the first anniversary of the Germanwings tragedy in which a suicidal pilot crashed a plane into a mountainside, killing all 150 on board. The ill-fated plane took off from Barcelona and was headed to Dusseldorf in Germany when German co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, 27, drove it into the ground on March 24, 2015. / AFP / BORIS HORVAT (Photo credit should read BORIS HORVAT/AFP/Getty Images)
A pennant of a mourning banner fixed in front of the Joseph-Koenig-Gymnasium secondary school reads ' In Our Hearts' and the flight number '4U9525' in Haltern am See, western Germany, on March 24, 2016 one year after a Germanwings plane carrying 16 local students and two teachers slammed into a mountainside. The community in the west of the country sustained the largest single loss from a disaster that claimed the lives of 150 people, including the suicidal co-pilot who deliberately crashed the plane in the French Alps. / AFP / SASCHA SCHUERMANN (Photo credit should read SASCHA SCHUERMANN/AFP/Getty Images)
Students stand in front of the Joseph-Koenig-Gymnasium secondary school with a mourning banner in Haltern am See, western Germany, on March 24, 2016 one year after a Germanwings plane carrying 16 local students and two teachers slammed into a mountainside. The community in the west of the country sustained the largest single loss from a disaster that claimed the lives of 150 people, including the suicidal co-pilot who deliberately crashed the plane in the French Alps. / AFP / SASCHA SCHUERMANN (Photo credit should read SASCHA SCHUERMANN/AFP/Getty Images)
People stand in a circle during a minute of silence on the square in front of the St. Sixtus Church in Haltern, Germany, Thursday March 24, 2016. 16 students and two teachers from the school were on board the Germanwings airplane that crashed on March 24, 2015 en route from Barcelona to Duesseldorf, (Marcel Kusch/dpa via AP)
People attend a mourning service in front of the church St Sixtus in Haltern am See, western Germany, on March 24, 2016 one year after a Germanwings plane carrying 16 local students and two teachers slammed into a mountainside. The community in the west of the country sustained the largest single loss from a disaster that claimed the lives of 150 people, including the suicidal co-pilot who deliberately crashed the plane in the French Alps. / AFP / SASCHA SCHUERMANN (Photo credit should read SASCHA SCHUERMANN/AFP/Getty Images)
Candles and fresh flowers lie in front of the Joseph Koenig Gymnasium at a memorial plaque for the victims of the Germanwings plane crash in the French Alps, in Haltern am See, Germany, on March 24, 2016. 16 students and two teachers from the school were on board the Germanwings airplane that crashed on 24 March 2015 en route from Barcelona to Duesseldorf. / AFP / Sascha SCHÃRMANN (Photo credit should read SASCHA SCHURMANN/AFP/Getty Images)
A journalist looks on 23 March, 2016 Col de Mariaud in Le Vernet in the French Alps, at the mountain where a suicidal pilot crashed a Germanwings plane on March 24, 2016, on the eve of the first anniversary of the tragedy in which the 150 people on board died. / AFP / ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT (Photo credit should read ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP/Getty Images)
This picture taken on March 18, 2016, shows tents being pitched near the the Germanwings aircrash site in Le Vernet, southern France. Hundreds are expected, on March 24, 2016, near the crash scene in Vernet to pay their tribute to the 149 victims of the crash. An Airbus A320 belonging to Lufthansa's low-cost carrier Germanwings crashed en route from Barcelona to Duesseldorf on March 24, 2015, in the French Alps, killing all 150 people on board. Black boxes recordings showed that co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, who had been suffering from depression, locked the cockpit door and deliberately crashed the plane. / AFP / ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT (Photo credit should read ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP/Getty Images)
Relatives of the victims of the Germanwings crash pay tribute and react next to the commemorative plaque set for the victims of the Germanwings plane which crashed into the French Alps and claimed 150 lives, at Barcelona's airport, in El Prat de Llobregat on March 23, 2016. The crash killed all 144 passengers and six crew -- a group of people from 20 countries, among them 72 Germans and 50 Spaniards, heading back from Barcelona and bound for Duesseldorf airport. / AFP / LLUIS GENE (Photo credit should read LLUIS GENE/AFP/Getty Images)
(FromL) Spanish Minister of Public Works Ana Pastor, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and Catalan regional president Carles Puigdemont applaud at the end of a ceremony commemorating the first anniversary of the crash of a Germanwings plane into the French Alps that claimed 150 lives, at Barcelona's airport, in El Prat de Llobregat on March 23, 2016. The crash killed all 144 passengers and six crew -- a group of people from 20 countries, among them 72 Germans and 50 Spaniards, heading back from Barcelona and bound for Duesseldorf airport. / AFP / LLUIS GENE (Photo credit should read LLUIS GENE/AFP/Getty Images)
President of the association for the victims of Germanwings Silvia Chaves (2ndL) pays tribute in front of the commemorative plaque set for the victims of the Germanwings plane which crashed into the French Alps and claimed 150 lives, at Barcelona's airport, in El Prat de Llobregat on March 23, 2016. The crash killed all 144 passengers and six crew -- a group of people from 20 countries, among them 72 Germans and 50 Spaniards, heading back from Barcelona and bound for Duesseldorf airport. / AFP / LLUIS GENE (Photo credit should read LLUIS GENE/AFP/Getty Images)
Relatives of the victims of the Germanwings crash pay tribute and react next to the commemorative plaque set for the victims of the Germanwings plane which crashed into the French Alps and claimed 150 lives, at Barcelona's airport, in El Prat de Llobregat on March 23, 2016. The crash killed all 144 passengers and six crew -- a group of people from 20 countries, among them 72 Germans and 50 Spaniards, heading back from Barcelona and bound for Duesseldorf airport. / AFP / LLUIS GENE (Photo credit should read LLUIS GENE/AFP/Getty Images)
Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy delivers a speech during a wreath laying ceremony commemorating the first anniversary of the crash of a Germanwings plane into the French Alps that claimed 150 lives, at Barcelona's airport, in El Prat de Llobregat on March 23, 2016. The crash killed all 144 passengers and six crew -- a group of people from 20 countries, among them 72 Germans and 50 Spaniards, heading back from Barcelona and bound for Duesseldorf airport. / AFP / LLUIS GENE (Photo credit should read LLUIS GENE/AFP/Getty Images)
Relatives of victims of the Germanwings plane crash arrive in a bus to attend a ceremony at the Chanot Park in Marseille on March 23, 2016 on the eve of the first anniversary of the tragedy in which a suicidal pilot crashed a plane into a mountainside, killing all 150 on board. / AFP / BERTRAND LANGLOIS (Photo credit should read BERTRAND LANGLOIS/AFP/Getty Images)
Relatives of victims of the Germanwings plane crash arrive to attend a ceremony at the Chanot Park in Marseille on March 23, 2016 on the eve of the first anniversary of the tragedy in which a suicidal pilot crashed a plane into a mountainside, killing all 150 on board. / AFP / BERTRAND LANGLOIS (Photo credit should read BERTRAND LANGLOIS/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture taken on 23 March, 2016 in Prads Haute Bleone in the French Alps, shows the memorial for the Germanwings plane crash victims, on the eve of the first anniversary of Germanwings tragedy in which a suicidal pilot crashed a plane into a mountainside, killing all 150 on board. / AFP / BORIS HORVAT (Photo credit should read BORIS HORVAT/AFP/Getty Images)
Tents are set up on the eve of ceremonies marking one year after the Germanwings plane crash, Wednesday, March 23, 2016 in Le Vernet, in the French Alps. The families of the 150 passengers and crew killed in the March 24, 2015, crash are to attend a ceremony in Le Vernet. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
View of the Germanwings plane crash site near Seyne-les-Alpes, Wednesday, March 23, 2016. The families of the 150 passengers and crew killed in the March 24, 2015, crash are to attend on Thursday March 24, a ceremony marking one year after the plane crash, in Le Vernet, French Alps. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
A picture taken on 23 March, 2016 in Prads Haute Bleone in the French Alps, shows the memorial for the Germanwings plane crash victims, on the eve of the first anniversary of Germanwings tragedy in which a suicidal pilot crashed a plane into a mountainside, killing all 150 on board. / AFP / BORIS HORVAT (Photo credit should read BORIS HORVAT/AFP/Getty Images)
Families of the Germanwings Airbus A320 victims, arrive for a anniversary ecumenical ceremony, in the Parc Chanot, in Marseille, southern France, Wednesday, March 23, 2016. Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz deliberately crashed a jet into the French Alps on March 24, 2015, while en route from Barcelona to Duesseldorf, killing all 150 people on board. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
CEO of German airline Lufthansa Carsten Spohr (C) and Germanwings CEO Thomas Winkelmann (L) arrive to attend a ceremony at the Chanot Park in Marseille on March 23, 2016 in tribute to the victims of the Germanwings plane crash, on the eve of the first anniversary of the tragedy in which a suicidal pilot crashed a plane into a mountainside, killing all 150 on board. / AFP / BERTRAND LANGLOIS (Photo credit should read BERTRAND LANGLOIS/AFP/Getty Images)
Families of the Germanwings Airbus A320 victims, arrive for a anniversary ecumenical ceremony, in the Parc Chanot, in Marseille, southern France, Wednesday, March 23, 2016. Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz deliberately crashed a jet into the French Alps on March 24, 2015, while en route from Barcelona to Duesseldorf, killing all 150 people on board. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
Families of the Germanwings Airbus A320 victims, arrive for a anniversary ceremony, in the Parc Chanot, Marseille, southern France, Wednesday, March 23, 2016. Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz deliberately crashed a jet into the French Alps on March 24, 2015, while en route from Barcelona to Duesseldorf, killing all 150 people on board. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
Chairman and CEO of German airline Lufthansa, Carsten Spohr, walks in front of Thomas Winkelman, chief executive of German low-cost airline Germanwings, as they arrive with families of the Germanwings Airbus A320 victims, for a anniversary ceremony, in the Parc Chanot, Marseille, southern France, Wednesday, March 23, 2016. Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz deliberately crashed a jet into the French Alps on March 24, 2015, while en route from Barcelona to Duesseldorf, killing all 150 people on board. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
A picture taken on 23 March, 2016 in Prads Haute Bleone in the French Alps, shows the memorial for the Germanwings plane crash victims, on the eve of the first anniversary of Germanwings tragedy in which a suicidal pilot crashed a plane into a mountainside, killing all 150 on board. / AFP / BORIS HORVAT (Photo credit should read BORIS HORVAT/AFP/Getty Images)
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LE VERNET, France, March 24 (Reuters) - Hundreds of people gathered in a tiny village in southern France on Thursday to remember the victims of the Germanwings plane crash one year ago.

All 150 onboard were killed when co-pilot Andreas Lubitz deliberately flew an A320 jet into a French mountainside on a flight from Barcelona to Duesseldorf on March 24, 2015.

Around 650 family members and over 100 employees from Lufthansa and Germanwings attended the private ceremony on a cold but sunny day in the village of Le Vernet. A minute's silence at 0941 GMT marked the time of the crash.

The families will have an option to visit the crash site on Thursday afternoon.

"We have come here today to Le Vernet to remember the victims and to pay our respects," Lufthansa Chief Executive Carsten Spohr said. "We can't ease this catastrophe either but we can at least be here for the relatives," he said.

A minute of silence was also held in the western German town of Haltern, home to a group of school children coming back from an exchange trip in Spain who were among the victims.

Germanwings air tragedy remembered one year on

At Duesseldorf and Barcelona airports, memorial plaques were also unveiled.

Various recommendations have been made since the crash on how to better improve monitoring of pilots' mental health after it emerged that Lubitz had concealed illness from his employer. Lufthansa has also appointed a safety pilot, reporting directly to Spohr, to further emphasize safety at the airline.

Lufthansa has paid out hundreds of thousands of euros in compensation to each of the families of the victims, but remains in talks with some lawyers who want to sue in the United States, where payouts are typically higher.

Law firm Irwin Mitchell said on Wednesday its lawyers, jointly with peers in the United States and Germany, would issue proceedings shortly against the flight school in Arizona where Lubitz was trained.

Spohr said it was not appropriate to discuss compensation on Thursday.

"We are all interested in a constructive solution. But again, today is about assisting the relatives on this very, very difficult day," he said. (Reporting by Lucien Libert; Writing by Victoria Bryan; Editing by Ruth Pitchford)

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