The corporate travel sector has defied the economic gloom with the Guild of Travel Management Companies (GTMC) reporting growth in air travel returned last month.

The GTMC recorded an 11% rise in air transactions by member companies year on year in April following a 1% rise in the first quarter of the year.

GTMC members include major companies such as Carlson Wagonlit and HRG and handle about 80% of UK corporate travel transactions.

The GTMC reported general BSP (billing and settlement plan) transactions for air travel up almost 6% in April. Its members reported a 3.45% increase in transaction values, also ahead of the small rise across all BSP agents.

The strong performance in April left air sales for the first four months of 2012 up more than 4% year on year compared with 3% over the 12 months to the end of March.

The value of GTMC members’ transactions was up slightly less at 3.8% over the year to date.

The figures belie the poor state of the UK economy which is officially in recession following two quarters of contraction.

Corporate travel is usually expected to follow the economic cycle closely, with any dip in production immediately producing a similar dip in travel.

GTMC chief executive Anne Godfrey noted recently: “The first-quarter figures contrast with recent GDP data.”