A Ryanair plane gets ready for departure, though this scenario could change next year, it has warned. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, File)

London - Ryanair has warned it will have to cut flights next year because of the ban on Boeing’s troubled 737 Max aircraft.

The budget airline confirmed it was not expecting US regulators to give the jets permission to take off again until as late as December.

All Boeing 737 Max jets have been grounded since March.

The decision came after 346 people were killed in two crashes, in Indonesia and Ethiopia.

The cause of those crashes is believed to have been due to a software malfunction. 

At that time, Boeing had been hoping its software fixes would get the ban lifted by autumn.

It's a case of bad timing. Ryanair was due to receive another 58 Boeing 737 Max planes by next summer, but none can be delivered until the ban has ended. 

It now expects to have only half of its order fulfilled on time.

The airline has now announced that it expects to fly 57 million passengers between March 2020 and March 2021, down from 5 million.

It was initially forecast that the airline would be able to fly 62 million in that same time period.

The airline has also warned it might have to stop operating from some airports — although no further details about this planned move has been confirmed by airline management.

Chief executive Michael O’Leary said: "We are starting a series of discussions with our airports to determine which underperforming or loss-making bases should suffer these short-term cuts and/or closures from November."

* Daily Mail