UK small to medium-sized firms looked beyond traditional markets to do business last year with British Airways revealing some of its fastest growing routes used by the sector.

Services across South America, Africa and Europe all featured.

The airline’s top 25 fastest growing routes used by SMEs last year included Santiago with 18% more bookings than 2017.

Travel also rose 10% between Gatwick and New York JFK on what is traditionally a leisure route, based on bookings through the airline’s SME loyalty programme On Business.

The trend was mirrored in Europe, with On Business bookings to Keflavik, Iceland up 39% and Krakow, Poland up 12% indicating that SMEs are looking to even more locations to travel for work.

Meanwhile, strong business links between the UK and Abuja and Lagos – both in Nigeria – saw SME travel on these routes rise 10%.

BA brand and customer experience director Carolina Martinoli said: “We fly to over 200 destinations around the world. While booking to our traditional business routes remain strong, it’s interesting to see that SMEs, through our On Business programme, are looking to different global destinations to travel to for work.”

CBI head of international trade James Ashton-Bell added: “2018 was a great year for UK exports, with new records set for innovative British goods and services reaching overseas destinations.

“Small and scale-up firms are powering this drive, breaking into new markets and discovering that demand for British expertise is ever-growing.”

BA’s On Business loyalty scheme enables companies to collect On Business points each time a member of their company travels. Points can be spent on reward flights or cabin upgrades.

On Business travellers still collect Avios, if they are a Member of the British Airways Executive Club alongside the company collecting On Business Points.