Ryanair has rejected claims made about its safety record in a Channel 4 documentary screened last night.

The Dispatches programme featured a number of anonymous Ryanair pilots, who made allegations relating to a number of safety issues.

In a statement, Ryanair said it had an outstanding 29-year safety record.

The airline also said the "false and defamatory claims" were based on "nothing more than anonymous hearsay".

Channel 4 said: "We stand by our journalism and will robustly defend proceedings if they are initiated."

Commenting on the programme, Merrion analyst David Holohan said that while Ryanair benefits from being Europe's lowest fare carrier, if passengers were to associate low fares with low safety standards it would be the end of its business model and management are aware of this.

"Ultimately, Ryanair has an unblemished flight safety record and management are well aware that maintaining this is of paramount importance," he added.