A FAMILY has been left devastated after their flights to Pakistan that cost more than £3,000 were cancelled by the airline just days before.

Naveed Ahmed and his wife and children were due to fly from Leeds Bradford Airport (LBA) to Islamabad in Pakistan with new start-up airline, IPS Airways, on Saturday, August 6.

They were due to attend a friend’s wedding and see family they hadn’t seen in seven years.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The flights were due to go from Leeds Bradford Airport The flights were due to go from Leeds Bradford Airport

But just four days before they were due to fly Mr Ahmed received a text message from IPS Airways informing him the flight was no longer going ahead and he would receive a refund for his £3,188 via PayPal.

Mr Ahmed said: “We were supposed to be flying out on Saturday, but on Monday I received this text, which came through four times, and said ‘important notice’, and told me that the flight wouldn’t be going ahead.

“I’d been in contact with the airline up to a week before and they said everything was fine, but then we woke up on Monday morning when all the shopping was done and dusted, and we got this text.

“I was just devastated, I didn’t know how to tell my wife and family, the kids had been so excited, they had been looking forward to this for a long time, and it’s not easy to just get an alternative flight because it’s the summer holidays and they’re all full.”

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The families were looking to travelling and have been left devastatedThe families were looking to travelling and have been left devastated

Mr Ahmed claimed that when he contacted the airline, IPS said LBA had staffing issues so he contacted Vincent Holder, LBA’s chief executive, and said he was told the airport had provided all support to the airline to begin operations and they had no staffing issues.

Another man told the T&A he had paid more than £2,000 to book three tickets for his family through a travel agent. Now they cannot afford to go away until they receive the refund.

He said: “It was a real kick in the teeth.”

IPS Airways told the T&A the pandemic and Brexit are to blame for the last-minute flight cancellation.

A spokesperson for IPS said: “As you are aware it is all over the media that airlines, airports and ground handlers have resourcing difficulties.

"We are all in the same situation and have to work together until we get through this difficult period.

"I am sure you can appreciate that none of us wanted to be in this situation. This is not of our making but caused by Brexit and the pandemic.

“We have all been impacted by these events airlines, airports and ground handlers both financially, commercially and operationally.

“These events were not in our control and at no stage did we implicate any airline, airport or ground handler.”

They advised that passengers who booked directly through IPS Airways' website will be fully refunded automatically using the original payment method.

Meanwhile, passengers who booked through a travel agent should contact them for a full refund.

IPS Airways are now expected to commence flights from LBA in October.

LBA said it was aware tickets were on sale for the service but said it “cannot speak for IPS Airways, or any other airline, on the reasons for its capacity decisions”.

A spokesperson said LBA has been working to recruit and train new staff, reopen security lanes, and has recruited its entire establishment headcount.

"LBA continues to recruit for extra headcount above establishment to ensure full staffing right across the peak summer travel period,” the spokesperson said.

"Queue times at LBA have reduced significantly with the introduction of more resources and as operational resilience has improved."