Virgin Atlantic boss Sir Richard Branson has condemned ash cloud flight restrictions as an "over-reaction" as thousands of passengers remained stranded overseas.
Sir Richard blamed the Government for grounding planes for six days when "all the experts" were saying there was "no danger at all to flying".
He said the airline was still "battling" to get some people home and, although it was "nearly on top of the problem", there was "maybe another week or so to go" to get back to normal.
And he insisted the Government should organise compensation for the airline industry which has itself been paying for stranded passengers' accommodation and food.
Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer said most flights were back to normal and most stranded British passengers were expected back by the end of the weekend.
He said the aim was to have more than 100,000 British passengers repatriated by tomorrow night.
But, according to industry figures compiled by travel journalist Simon Calder, there were still 10,000 passengers stranded in Egypt, 9,000 in Florida, 5,000 in South Africa, 4,000 in California, 2,500 in Thailand, and 2,000 in Malaysia.
Britons stranded in Bangkok were reportedly too scared to leave Suvarnabhumi Airport for fear of being caught up in anti-government protests.
In an attempt to clear the backlog, both Virgin Atlantic and British Airways appealed for volunteers to give up their seats to stranded travellers.
Sir Richard said the flight restrictions had cost his airline about £50 million over the six days. He added: "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."