US giant United Continental Holdings would not object to a merger between US Airways and American Airlines.

United chief executive Jeff Smisek told the Financial Times he would not urge regulators to block a tie-up between his rivals even though it could weaken the global airline alliance that his airline belongs to.

Backing further US airline consolidation, Smisek said: “It would be a benefit to the US aviation business and its structure if there were to be a combination between American and another carrier – whether it is US Airways or someone else.”

He predicted that a merged American and US Airways would be a member of the British Airways-led Oneworld alliance.

Smisek said it would be “regrettable” if US Airways left the Star alliance alongside United because of a tie-up with American but said that this setback was outweighed by the benefits of further consolidation.

He added United was not interested in trying to merge with American because it would probably be a “difficult transaction” on anti-trust grounds, but he stressed his airline was “always interested in assets”.

He attacked US regulators for “doing their best to destroy” his industry, and contrasted this with the United Arab Emirates’ strong support for fast-growing Gulf carriers, which he described as a “significant” strategic threat.

“Emirates does benefit from a very enlightened aviation policy at the United Arab Emirates and we suffer from an unenlightened policy from the US government,” said Smisek.