Budget airline Ryanair today said it would consider bringing yet more services to Manchester if its new base at the airport proves a success.
The carrier will launch its new hub in two months’ time and has already sold 20,000 seats for its winter programme.
Ryanair, spearheaded by chief executive Michael O'Leary, said there has been huge demand for its Oslo service in particular, from Scandinavian football fans eager to follow both Manchester United and City in the Champions League this season.
It added the Canary Islands are proving popular with winter sunseekers from the region looking for short breaks during the holiday season.
In July, the low-cost carrier announced it was investing £175m in Manchester, with the aim of creating 2,000 jobs by launching 17 winter routes, growing to 26 by the summer of 2012.
Marketing executive Maria Macken told the M.E.N: “We are eight weeks away from opening the base and things are looking very good.
“At the moment, there is a huge demand for winter sun flights from Manchester, as well as huge demand on the Oslo service from people flying into Manchester for the football.
“Customers appear to be taking advantage of the opportunity to book five or 10-day stays, rather than full package holidays at that time of year.”
July's announcement came less than two years after Ryanair pulled out of Manchester, sparking a war of words with its former bosses.
In setting up its base, it is bringing four aircraft to Manchester and, by next year, it expects to be running 260 flights a week.
Ms Macken added: “Michael O’Leary has said he will consider adding routes to the summer service and, if things go well, there is every chance of that.
“Announcing the base was a huge step for us, as Manchester is one of the most important airports in the UK.”
The new routes being launched include cities in Spain, France, Germany, Italy, the Baltic states and Scandinavia.
Meanwhile the Office of Fair Trading has resumed its probe into Ryanair’s minority stake in Irish rival Aer Lingus and expects to reach a decision by the end of next month.
The OFT inquiry began last year a year ago into whether Ryanair's near 30 per cent holding gave it the power to influence the former state carrier's commercial policy and hampered competition.
Ryanair first acquired a stake in Aer Lingus in 2006 and mounted a public bid for its entire shareholding late that year, but the European Commission investigated the bid and decided to prohibit it in June 2007.
Ryanair said it was surprised that the OFT 'continues to waste time and resources' on a failed merger offer between two non-UK companies.