Airlines do not have enough effective contingency plans in place to deal with problems like the volcanic eruption, Tim Jeans has claimed.

Speaking on Newsnight last night, the Monarch managing director said the industry has failed as whole to deal with the problems caused by the closing down of UK airspace since last Thursday, although he admitted the current conditions were extreme.

He said: “There’s not a great deal more that could have been done but we need to make better contingency plans.

“We as an industry, and I would include ourselves in this, have a poor record of this sort of contingency planning although who could have predicted last Wednesday night when this happened that we would have a total lock down on British airspace for a week?

“Nobody could have predicted that and that’s extremely difficult to plan against.”

Jeans said better planning would help alleviate the cost of such a problem and while some airlines will suffer badly as a result of the eruption, he believes UK airlines are well placed to survive.

He said: “At the moment airlines are writing a blank cheque for all of this and that is going to cause a day of reckoning. UK airlines on the whole are very well funded and can survive this particular storm.”

However, Jeans added he believed the right decision had been taken to close UK airspace on safety grounds.