RYANAIR shares rose after it stood firm on plans to cut pilot and cabin crew jobs as it reported the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max planes was impacting growth.

The budget airline said it now expects to receive its first Max planes in March 2020, two months later than previously forecast, as it also flagged a fuel costs rise of almost a quarter in the first half.

Ryanair has reduced its passenger figure forecasts for the next year, while it said it had a “cautious” outlook over fares for the next year.

The company said it will be forced to “cut or close a number of loss-making bases this winter” due to the delays, affecting pilots and cabin crews.

In July, the company said job losses were inevitable, warning that up to 900 jobs could go as a result of soaring fuel prices and the grounded aircraft problems.

READ MORE: Hundreds of jobs at risk at Ryanair

It is unclear at this stage how the move will affect workers in Scotland.

Last year Ryanair took the decision to shut its Glasgow base and cut the number of routes it runs from the airport in a move that put around 300 jobs at risk, but this year it has introduced new Scottish flights including from Edinburgh to Billund and Luxembourg after recommencing flights to Alicante, Malaga, Charleroi and Warsaw to Glasgow.

The firm said it expects the aircraft to drive improvements at the business once they arrive, but that it might not see resultant cost savings until the 2021 full year results.

Michael O’Leary, Ryanair chief executive, said there is “a real risk that it would have no Boeing 737 Max aircraft flying next summer if there are additional delays to the return to service of the grounded aircraft.

“We have now reduced our expectation of 30 Max aircraft being delivered to us in advance of peak summer 2020 down to 20 aircraft and there is a real risk of none.”

READ MORE: Ryanair stands by plan to axe cabin crew and pilot jobs

The Ireland-headquartered business reported post-tax profits of €1.15 billion for the half-year to September, in line with the same period in 2018.

It boosted revenues by 11 per cent to €5.4bn driven by an 11% rise in passenger numbers over the half year.

Scheduled sales rose 5% to €3.74bn as the firm carried 86 million passengers at 5% lower air fares due to the weak consumer demand in the UK and overcapacity in Germany and Austria, ancillary revenue rose 28% to €1.65bn as more passengers chose priority boarding and preferred seat services, and last month Ryanair Labs launched a new digital platform with “improved personalised guest offers”.

Ryanair fuel bill rose 22% to €1.59bn due to higher prices and traffic growth.

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There was also a 2% rise in ex-fuel unit costs “primarily due to higher staff costs, increased pilot pay and higher than expected crew ratios - as pilot resignations slowed to almost zero - higher maintenance - as older aircraft remain in the fleet due to the Boeing Max delivery delays - and the consolidation of Lauda costs”.

It said: “We continue to negotiate attractive growth deals as airports compete to win Ryanair’s traffic growth.

“Sadly, due to the Max delivery delays, we will be forced to cut or close a number of loss making bases this winter leading to pilot and cabin crew job losses. We continue to work with our people and their unions to finalise this process.”

Ryanair said: “Delivery of the group’s first B737-Max-200 aircraft has been repeatedly delayed from Q2 2019.

“We now expect our first Max aircraft to deliver in March 2020 at the earliest. The risk of further delay is rising. We expect to receive only 20 Max-200s - previously 58 - in time for summer 2020 which has cut our summer 2020 growth rate from 7% to 3% - 162m to 157m guests in FY21.

“We remain confident that these ‘gamechanger’ aircraft, which have 4% more seats, but burn 16% less fuel, when delivered will transform our cost base and our business for the next decade. Due to these delivery delays, we will not see any of these expected cost savings delivered until FY21.” Shares rose more than 8% to €13.52.