Local teacher to miss family wedding after Leeds Bradford Airport flight cancelled by text - five days before take off

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A Wakefield teacher due to fly to Pakistan to celebrate a family wedding has hit back at an airline company flying from Leeds Bradford Airport after his family’s flights were cancelled by text message - five days before he was due to take off.

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

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They had been due to fly out for a family wedding that was previously postponed during the coronavirus pandemic.

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The airline has said it will not be operating any of its planned flights from Leeds Bradford Airport until October. Picture: Simon HulmeThe airline has said it will not be operating any of its planned flights from Leeds Bradford Airport until October. Picture: Simon Hulme
The airline has said it will not be operating any of its planned flights from Leeds Bradford Airport until October. Picture: Simon Hulme

But as their excitement for the trip was beginning to build, Mr Ahmed received a text from the airline to say that the flights had been cancelled.

"Money can be replaced but it’s the emotional damage that they have done to my children and my wife because they were really looking forward to this," Mr Ahmed told the YEP.

"They have completely ruined it. Everything else can be reversed but they can’t reverse the emotional side."

He is now demanding compensation from the airline, who are legally bound to give 14 days of notice for a cancelled flight.

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The family had been due to attend the wedding of his brother-in-law, with flights being booked back in June.

"My brother-in-law was due to get married last year but he postponed it because he wanted his only sister to be there," Mr Ahmed said.

"They’ve made all the preparations – booked a wedding hall – everything and now on August 9 his wedding is going ahead without his only sister."

On Monday, Mr Ahmed received a text message to inform him that the flights were cancelled. He said that when he contacted IPS Airways, they claimed it was due to staffing issues at Leeds Bradford Airport (LBA).

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He said: "When they said they had to cancel due to airport staff shortages, I was quite sympathetic towards them. I thought, 'You know what? It happens.'

"I've been hearing on the news about airport issues. Then I thought, 'but I emailed IPS last week to check and they said everything was fine'. Surely if there were operational issues, they would have known before now?"

When Mr Ahmed contacted airport chief executive Vincent Hodder, he was told that the issue was entirely the responsibility of the airline and not related to any airport staffing issues.

In a statement provided to the YEP, IPS Airways confirmed operations out of Leeds Bradford Airport had been postponed until October and that customers had been notified by email and text with refunds being processed.

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A spokesperson 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.

"We apologise for the inconvenience and disappointment this may have caused."

An airport spokesperson said: “LBA cannot speak for IPS Airways, or any other airline, on the reasons for its capacity decisions.

“LBA has worked hard over the last few months to recruit and train new staff, reopen security lanes, and has recruited its entire establishment headcount.”

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With no indication as to when their refund will be received and only days left to book alternative travel arrangements, Mr Ahmed and his family are now coming to terms with missing out on the celebrations.

He added: "The only flights now available are £20,000 and we just can’t afford it, so have no choice but to miss the wedding."