British Airways saw a slight increase in the number of passengers it carried last month, it emerged yesterday.

The UK flagship carrier said it flew a total of 3,246,000 people, a rise of 1.1 per cent over the 3,210,000 figure in September last year.

Routes to Africa and the Middle East saw the biggest jump, rising 11 per cent, from 257,000 to 285,000.

BA said traffic in the UK and Europe rose 1.1 per cent, from 2,132,000 to 2,156,000.

However, there was a fall of 1.3 per cent on routes to the Americas, down from 648,000 to 639,999, and a fall of 4.1 per cent on the Asian Pacific sector, down from 173,000 to 166,000.

The airline's load factor - a measure of how full its planes were - was adrift 0.8 percentage points to 78.8 per cent.

The increase in passenger numbers comprised a 1.5 per cent rise in premium traffic and a similar increase in non-premium.

Airlines were recovering after being badly affected by the terrorist scare at London Heathrow which caused disruption for several days and on-going baggage problems.

It was claimed liquid explosives would have been used to blow up planes in mid-air.

In a statement BA added: "Market conditions continue to be good, and most segments of the business are recovering well from the events of August.

"However, as expected, September transfer traffic volumes, in particular in the premium cabins, were affected by carry on baggage restrictions.

"Volume in premium short-haul also continues to be soft for the same reason.

"The reintroduction of standard carry on bag sizes agreed at the end of the month, and harmonisation of rules on liquids planned for the end of October are expected to support the gradual recovery of these segments of the business.

"As a result of the volume shortfall total revenue is now expected to grow at five to six per cent for the financial year, down from six to seven per cent."

Meanwhile, Dublin-based Ryanair - Europe's largest no-frills airline - said it carried 3.54 million passengers in September, a 17 per cent increase on the same month last year.

The carrier, which operates direct services from Birmingham International Airport, said its load factor, a measure of how full flights are, was 86 per cent, down one per cent from September last year.

The rolling 12 month passenger total is 38.9 million, while the rolling 12 month load factor came in at 84 per cent.

Last week Ryanair raised its year to end of March 2007 net profit guidance.

It now expects a rise of 11 per cent to about 335 million euros (£226.3 million), up from a previous expectation of a five to ten percent increase.