The Airbus A320 aircraft, operated by Germanwings, was flying from Barcelona to Dusseldorf when it crashed in mountainous terrain close to the French city of Digne.
The BBC reports that 16 German school children were among the passengers.
The A320 had been in continuous service with Lufthansa and later Germanwings since 1991.
Early reports indicated the aircraft had been delayed departing Barcelona due to technical issues with its nose-wheel.
In a statement, Germanwings, which is a low-cost subsidiary of Lufthansa, said: “We must confirm to our deepest regret that Germanwings flight 4U 9525 from Barcelona to Dusseldorf has suffered an accident over the French Alps. The flight was being operated with an Airbus A320 aircraft, and was carrying 144 passengers and six crew members.
“Everyone at Germanwings and Lufthansa is deeply shocked and saddened by these events. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the passengers and crew members.”
Germanwings later reported scheduling delays due to a certain number of crew refusing to operate aircraft due to safety concerns with the A320 aircraft and out of respect for their fallen colleagues.
“We understand their decision, said Thomas Winkelmann, management spokesperson of Germanwings. Some flights were cancelled, the airline confirmed.
The cause of the accident is not yet clear, but French officials have confirmed that recovery workers have located the aircraft’s black box.