Yorkshire teacher has £3,000 flights cancelled by text - five days before take off

A teacher who was due to fly to Pakistan to celebrate a family wedding has criticised a new airline after his £3,000 flights were cancelled by text message - five days before he was due to take off.

Naveed Ahmed, aged 35, and his wife and three children were booked on an IPS Airways flight from Leeds Bradford Airport to Islamabad on August 6.

The new service was due to launch in the first week of August but on Monday Mr Ahmed received a text message from the firm saying the flight had been cancelled.

Mr Ahmed, from Wakefield, said: “They have destroyed my family holiday. My wife and children are devastated. It’s not about the money because I will get my money back but it’s the emotional cost and upset this has caused.”

IPS Airways has postponed the launch of its operations from Leeds Bradford Airport

He is demanding compensation from the firm, which should give 14 days’ notice of a cancelled flight.

The family had been due to attend the wedding of his brother-in law-in Rawalpindi and Mr Ahmed booked the flights in June.

On Monday (Aug 1) he received a text message to inform him the flights were cancelled and when he contacted IPS Airways they claimed it was due to staffing issues at Leeds Bradford Airport.

But Mr Ahmed contacted the airport's CEO Vincent Hodder, who said the issue was entirely the responsibility of the airline and not related to services provided by the airport, which did not have any staffing issues.

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Mr Ahmed said: “I am so angry. I don’t understand why they didn’t contact us earlier when there would have been time to make other arrangements. I know the industry is struggling and I emailed IPS to check everything was okay last week - they said everything was fine but they must have known there were problems.”

Mr Ahmed said the airline held a high-profile launch event in Bradford in June to announce its new direct flights from Leeds Bradford to Islamabad.

He said: “There are no other direct routes to Islamabad out of Leeds Bradford so this was a big deal for our community and I am sure there are dozens of other families in the same boat as us who have booked flights to go and see relatives only to be told their flights have been cancelled.

“It’s all well and good refunding the money but what about all the other expense and the impact generally, who is going to compensate us for the emotional upset?”

IPS Airways confirmed operations out of Leeds Bradford Airport had been postponed until October and a spokeswoman said they had notified customers by email and text message and were processing refunds.

A statement on the company website said: “There are multiple challenges currently facing the aviation industry as it recovers from the worst crisis it has ever faced due to the pandemic.

"IPS Airways has taken the difficult decision to postpone its start-up operation from Leeds-Bradford Airport and East Midlands Airport, which was due to commence early August. We expect to begin our services from October 2022.”

It said passengers who booked with IPS Airways directly would be fully refunded automatically using the original payment method.

Customers who booked through travel agents are urged to contact them for a refund. The statement added: “We apologise for the inconvenience and disappointment this may have caused.”

Mr Ahmed said: “The only flights available now are £20,000 and I can’t afford it so we will have to miss the wedding.”