Sir Richard Branson has 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 Sunday'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."
Sir Richard only arrived in the UK at 9am on Saturday morning 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.