Air transactions through members of the Guild of Travel Management Companies (GTMC) grew by just 2% in the first quarter of the year.

However, air bookings were up for the eighth quarter in a row and business travel transactions in other sectors have risen more sharply.

Rail bookings led the way with a 15% increase, followed by hotels up by 7% and car hire up by 3%

GTMC chief executive, Paul Wait, said: “These results reflect the transactions made during January-March this year, the final full quarter of trading during the Conservative–Liberal Democrat coalition government and a period of uncertainty about the future.”

He added: “There is a continuing trend of increases in transactions and GDP, demonstrating the value of business travel to business growth.

“Both the service sector and consumer demand are continuing to drive growth in UK output and in turn we are seeing an increase in transactions from members offering domestic travel services across rail, hotels and car hire.

“As the pound continues to remain strong and UK competitiveness in the global market is challenged as a result, the onus is on business owners to invest in air travel to international markets to support the growth effort overseas.

“There needs to be greater economic health in the UK’s biggest export market, the eurozone, and greater ambition in new markets. The only way that this can be secured is by businesses investing in business travel.”

Wait said: “In their election manifesto the Conservatives confirmed their commitment to improving transport facilities and infrastructure in a number of areas relevant to business travel: support for high speed rail, action to reduce rail fares and investment in additional motorway construction.

“These all have critical roles to play in laying solid foundations from which UK plc can increase business travel and therefore grow the economy.”