Ryanair has said it expects that most of its flights will be grounded from today.

In a tweet, the airline said it does not expect to operate flights during the months of April and May at this time, adding that this will clearly depend on government advice.

Ryanair also said today that it has offered its planes to all EU governments, both for rescue flights and to operate essential flights for the movement of vital medicines, personal protective equipment - and if necessary - emergency food supplies. 

It said it continuing to work with governments on rescue flights to return stranded passengers to their home country.

The airline stressed that these flights are taking place under maximum safety measures, with daily disinfecting of planes and no trolley services to cut social contact.

For passengers whose flights have been cancelled, Ryanair said that they will receive an email "over the next week or two" outlining their options.

But Ryanair urged customers not to use the airline's phone lines as it has been forced to cut its office staff by 50% due to social distancing reasons. 

The airline asked passengers "to be patient and bear with us".

Ryanair's chief executive Micheal O'Leary said that while the immediate future is uncertain, it is important to remember that, like all pandemics, this crisis will pass.

"In Ryanair, Buzz, Lauda and Air Malta, we will do everything we can to keep our aircraft, our crews and our engineering teams operational so that when Europe defeats this Covid-19 pandemic, we are ready to return to flying," Michael O'Leary said.