Sir Richard Branson today criticised the blanket ban on flights because of the volcanic ash, saying it was "not the right decision".
The Virgin Atlantic boss said the airline lost about £50 million in six days and called for compensation for the industry.
Speaking in central London ahead of tomorrow's Virgin London Marathon, Sir Richard said: "We've never asked for Government help in 25 years. We didn't even ask for Government help after 9/11. We took it on the chin.
"But I think on this occasion this was very much a Government decision to ground the planes and we would suggest that the Government should compensate the industry.
"Behind the scenes our engineers and all the experts were telling us that there was no danger at all to flying and that the danger would have been if we had flown close to Iceland through the volcano.
"There were plenty of corridors through which the airlines could have flown through which would have been quite safe, so I think the Government has accepted that there was overreaction.
"Whether or not there was overreaction or not I think the correct thing in a situation like this would be for the industry to be helped.
"The experts in the industry were saying it was safe to fly.
"A blanket ban of the whole of Europe was not the right decision.
"The first few days the ash was up at 35,000ft, the planes could have flown below 35,000ft. There were plenty of ways of dealing with it.
"But actually, planes have to put with sandstorms in Africa, the engines are designed to put up with a lot more than existed."
Sir Richard only arrived in the UK himself at 9am today after chartering a plane from Los Angeles.
He said it would not have been right to take up a space on one of his own planes while passengers were still stranded.
Instead he used the extra space on his flight to help people, including marathon runners, back to the UK.
He said: "It's been horrendous actually. Both for the airline and for Virgin Holidays and for thousands and thousands of our travellers. And very hard work for all the staff at Virgin as well who have worked tirelessly to try to make sure all the people stuck all over the world have been looked after."
He said the airline was still "battling" to get some people home from some routes, including Orlando and the Caribbean.
And although some passengers were delighted to have an extra holiday at the company's expense and were writing thank you letters, others were desperate to get back to work.
Sir Richard said the airline was "nearly on top of the problem, maybe another week or so to go".
And he said passengers who did not need to travel were being asked to give up their seats for those who were desperate to get back.
He said the eventual financial impact would depend on a compensation package.
"The EC at the height of the problem, the Transport Minister (Lord Adonis) indicated they were going to compensate airlines.
"If they don't compensate airlines, we lost about £50 million in the six days, so it's a lot of money.
"The indication was that since the Government's made the decision to ground all the planes and the airlines took on the responsibility of sorting out everybody who was stuck all over the world, that the Government and the European Union would compensate airlines.
"When 9/11 happened to the American carriers, the government compensated the carriers, and so for acts of war or God or whatever you call them it seems to be a situation where governments can help the industry out.
"In the meantime we make sure that all our passengers are well looked after."
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