Corporate air travel bookings were 17% down in the first quarter of the year on the same period in 2008 and total business travel transactions 6% lower, according to the Guild of Travel Management Companies.

The GTMC´s quarterly transaction figures show hotel bookings down 8% year on year in the first three months after growth throughout 2008, and car rental down 7%.

However, rail and ancillary bookings appear to have bucked the downturn, with corporate use of trains up 14% and transactions involving passport and visa services, insurance, taxis and airport parking up by 31%.

GTMC chief executive Philip Carlisle said: “The quarterly transaction survey is an accurate snapshot of how UK business is faring. The decline in air travel is worrying, but predictable.”

The GTMC´s 31 members handle about 80% of UK corporate travel.