Governments should refrain from bailing out weak and failing airlines, says International Airlines Group (IAG) chief executive Willie Walsh, speaking at the Aircraft Finance & Commercial Aviation (AFCA) conference in Barcelona.
Walsh criticises governments for keeping beleaguered airlines "artificially alive" through state aid, alluding to the recent downfall of Spanish carrier Spanair and Hungarian airline Malev.
"Markets replace capacity very quickly," he says. "Governments should look at what's happened and realise there is no need to keep these airlines going just for the connectivity. We have [an] industry that's flexible enough to sustain the capacity."
The IAG head, who expects to see more bankruptcies in 2012, adds that European regulation such as the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) has a detrimental effect on the ability of UK airlines to compete internationally.
"UK government policy ignores aviation completely," complains Walsh. "We have no policy and we're suffering considerably because of this." He adds that the Dubai government - which has made air transport the cornerstone of its growth strategy - has "the right sort of attitude towards aviation".