Cathay Pacific chief John Slosar attempted to counter Gulf-driven pessimism over the value of alliances, and even their possible demise, during yesterday afternoon's panel discussion.
The Oneworld group, to which Cathay belongs, had accepted SriLankan Airlines as a new member earlier in the day.
Slosar insisted that the links provided by alliances helped carriers extend their presence beyond what they could achieve on their own.
"No airline is yet global enough to cover [all segments]," he said.
"The time when any individual airline has enough reach to offer a truly global brand seems a long way off."
Qatar Airways chief Akbar Al-Baker refused to be drawn on whether the Doha-based operator would enter one of the three major groups, deferring instead to Emirates Airline president Tim Clark who openly doubted the alliances' viability.
Clark suggests that the long-term prospects were dim for alliances "in their present form".
He says that, over the last few years, evidence had emerged of a "new force" in civil aviation in the form of other business models, which could undermine the value of alliance membership.
Even some airlines which are already alliance members, he adds, are looking to move in a different direction. Clark said that "acceptance" of these new business models, and multiple segmentation, puts the survival of the groups in question.
But Slosar challenges this view, stating that the impact of alliance membership is a parameter that can be tracked and that membership benefit can be demonstrated. "I think the figures say otherwise," he said.