THE AFTERMATH of the September 11 attacks is still

hitting business hard at Leeds Bradford International Airport - but bosses say an upturn in fortunes is due.

The airport has revealed that the total number of passengers passing through the airport in January was down 21 per cent on business in January 2001.

Airport chiefs say all airports are still suffering from the problems in the wake of the terrorist attacks last year.

But they say business is set

to get better, with the introduction of extra flights in coming weeks.

Head of marketing and

business development at the airport, Kate O'Hara, says the drop in passenger figures is certainly linked to the knock-on effects of September 11.

She said: "We're no different to any other airport in the UK. We have seen a downturn in traffic, and we expect that to continue for some time. It has been down to a combination of things."

Belgian airline Sabena, which flew a number of scheduled

services from Leeds Bradford, was one of the casualties among the slump in air travel last year.

Sabena's Brussels route has now been taken over by BMI, formerly British Midland, but Ms O'Hara said the connections

network had suffered from worldwide airline cuts.

She said British Airways'

decision to 'rationalise' its routes had also cut down on the

international connections available.

"In terms of internal routes, things are starting to pick up," she said.

She added that there were already many bookings for special holiday charter flights in the traditional boom summer months.

Irish airline Ryanair, which cut flights early last year, has now decided to increase its operations at Leeds Bradford, from one flight to Cork each day to three.

Ms O'Hara added that BMI will also be introducing an extra flight on Sundays to Paris.

"We are starting to see a recovery in some services, but it's still quite a difficult market. We expect that," she said.