The Guild of Travel Management Companies (GTMC) reported a 4% increase in air travel transactions in the three months to June, confirming a return in UK business confidence.

The year-on-year rise in business travel flying in the second quarter went along with a 16% increase in hotel bookings and 7% rise in rail transactions by GTMC members.

The GTMC’s 38 travel management company members account for about 80% of UK corporate travel.

Air, rail and hotel bookings dominate the data, which showed an overall 8% rise in activity in the quarter.

However, air bookings for the first half of the year and for the 12 months to June remain flat on the previous year following a 3% decline in January to March.

Hotel transactions over the 12 months were up 4% and rail bookings up 2%.

The second-quarter increase in flight bookings came on top of a 2% rise year on year in April-June 2012, suggesting a real improvement rather than a seasonal anomaly.

The GTMC published the figures along with its latest quarterly review indicating a return of business confidence and suggested: “Business travel does drive economic growth.”

Hailing the figures, GTMC chief executive Paul Wait said: “It’s my firm belief that business travel and the health of the UK economy are closely linked.

“GTMC members believe business travel is not a cost but a necessary investment to drive economic growth and prosperity.

“Britain is about to get back to business [and] it is getting back to business travel – not before time.”