This year travel managers will need to mitigate a hankering for more business travel with an unwelcome rise in costs, according to a senior figure in the industry.

Klaus Busch, managing director of travel payment firm Airplus International, said that business travel is undoubtedly on the rise, after a 12% increase in transactions in the first three months, compared to the same period in 2010.

“The financial crisis is definitely over,” he said, adding that in terms of the corporate cards sector the market is back to 2008 levels.

Using the example of a large global customer based in Germany, Airplus reported that since the beginning of 2011 total travel expenses have risen 33%, compared to the same period in 2010.

While the price of an individual flight has not yet returned to 2008 levels – in March 2008 the average ticket cost $863, while in March 2011 the figure stood at $672 – it is also on the rise, said Busch.

The key to keeping a close eye on costs is access to data, according to Busch, something Airplus claims to be making a priority.

Speaking at Airplus’ annual press briefing, Busch said a “key demand” from travel buyers was to be able to analyse data and use it to negotiate with suppliers.

He said this was something Airplus could help with – by using a corporate card buyers could prove how far their travellers’ plans matched up with what actually happened during a trip.

Speaking more broadly about Airplus’ plans for the coming year, Busch said the payments solution firm aims to tap into the meetings and conferences market in Europe, and improve its scope internationally.

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