Ryanair has promised to repay customers within five days for cancelled flights in a renewed customer service push after criticism about how it handled refunds at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The airline said refunds would be processed into a new online wallet function within 24 hours of a flight being cancelled.

This will allow customers to book new flights immediately or opt to get the funds back within five working days.

Ryanair was one of a number of airlines criticised during the pandemic for resisting issuing cash refunds to people who could not take their flights due to Covid-19 restrictions, which the airlines said were outside of their control.

Some customers also complained of delays to refunds for cancelled flights and unwieldy refund request processes.

The UK competition authority in June launched enforcement action against Ryanair over a failure to offer refunds rather than rebooking to passengers who were barred from taking flights under lockdown rules. But earlier this month it withdrew the action.

Ryanair said it had paid refunds in justified cases after reviewing each case.

In September Ryanair joined a group of European airlines in agreeing to refund passengers whose flights were cancelled during the pandemic, and committed to provide better information on passengers' rights in future.

A new feature of its app promises real time push notifications and videos from its operations centre to inform customers of their flight status and any disruptions.

It also said customers would be able to makes changes to flights or passengers' names via the app rather than calling a customer service agent.

Ryanair's Director of Marketing Dara Brady said that driven by customer panel input, the new improvements will allow its customers to self-serve online when changing flight dates or passengers' names, updating contact information or adding bags or seats.

"Our first ever Customer Panel meeting in September was instrumental in driving these service improvements and we look forward to receiving further panel feedback at our second meeting in early 2022, to help us develop more ways to improve our customers experience while we lower airfares post-Covid and grow to carry 225 million passengers per annum," Dara Brady added.