LONDON – British Airways Chief Executive Willie Walsh said on Tuesday the airline industry was going through its biggest ever crisis, and repeated his warning that more carriers would go bust.

“This industry is in crisis — a deeper, more protracted, more fundamental crisis than 9/11, the Gulf War or any of the previous shocks that have beset the industry since the age of mass air transport began in the 1970s,” he said in a speech to the London Chamber of Commerce.

He added carriers would continue to go to the wall in the manner of XL and Zoom Airlines earlier this month. “There will be more to come as we head toward the traditionally poorer returns of the winter travel season,” he said.

Walsh used his dire outlook to justify the group’s merger talks with Iberia as well as his application for an antitrust alliance with American Airlines and the proposed building of a third runway at Heathrow.