Lawyers are demanding an apology and compensation from Ryanair due to its the “woeful” response after 77-year-old Delsie Gayle was racially abused on a flight.

Law firm Leigh Day claimed that at no point did any member of the cabin crew check her wellbeing, and met her eventual complaints with “disinterest and obstructiveness”.

It also alleged that the media were shown a “private and confidential” letter from the airline to Gayle long before she received it.

Ryanair’s first contact was on November 2, 14 days after the incident, when a letter dated October 21 arrived from Ireland, according to the firm.

A passenger seated alongside Gayle on the flight from Barcelona to Stansted, David Mesher, was filmed subjecting her to racist abuse.

However, cabin crew made Gayle, who suffers from arthritis and has a replacement knee, twice move seat, rather than remove Mesher from the flight.

Gayle had been on holiday with her daughter Carol, a year after the death of her husband, when the incident occurred before take-off in Barcelona.

The lawyers also asked know what steps Ryanair is taking, including crew training, to minimise the risk of similar future incidents.

An online petition against Ryanair following the incident has attracted more than 341,000 signatures.

Richard Meeran, of Leigh Day, said: “Ryanair’s response to the vile racist abuse Mrs Gayle was subjected to has been woeful. Ryanair needs to take this issue seriously. It should apologise properly to Mrs Gayle and compensate her for the distress it has caused her.

“It should take responsibility for the crude mishandling of the incident and explain what action it has taken over this incident and what steps it is taking to minimise the risk of future abuse of its passengers.”

Ryanair has yet to respond to the latest legal claims, but has previously said it only became aware of the incident via footage on social media shot by a fellow passenger, and issued an apology.

“We believe that by reporting this matter immediately to the Essex police and by apologising in writing to this customer early on Sunday morning, Ryanair treated it with the urgency and seriousness it warranted.”

The airline contacted police on October 21. It said cabin crew on the flight had asked Gayle if she was OK, moved her at her own request, and had not been aware of the racist abuse by Mesher.

Ryanair said: “We have not yet received any letter from these lawyers.

“Given that Ryanair immediately reported this matter to the Essex Police when we became aware of the video, and apologised in writing to the affected passenger, it is already crystal clear that Ryanair has taken this issue seriously.”