Police halted outgoing flights and held 3,500 people outside the main terminal at Orlando International Airport for 4 1/2 hours yesterday after a 23-year-old man claimed he had a bomb in his flight bag.

The man, who perched on the ledge of a fourth-floor mezzanine restaurant during negotiations with police, had no explosives, said police Maj. Fred Walsh.

Stephen Daniel Smith apparently made the threat to avoid going to jail, Walsh said, who added that Smith is wanted in connection with a Jan. 26 bank robbery in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea.

Smith ended the standoff with authorities after he was allowed to telephone his mother, Walsh said.

"The emergency is over. The man has been taken into custody," said airport press aide Carolyn Fennell. "The airport is opening immediately. As soon as those passengers are cleared . . . we'll be in full operation again."

People in the airport's Champ's Restaurant were alerted to the incident about 12:50 p.m. when a waitress suddenly yelled for "everybody to clear out," said Glen Mills, 21, who had just arrived from Boston and was having a drink.

Mills said a man wearing sunglasses, jeans and a jacket was walking around with a bag saying "he had a gun inside the bag. He hopped over a railing and that's when I left."