ZAMBIA’Sbudget airline Proflight has announced that it will be suspending its flights to Zimbabwe with effect from January 29, 2019 due to challenges in repatriating funds.
Zimbabwe which is facing financial challenges has failed to repatriate about US$150 million to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) for air tickets purchased in the country stretching over many years.
Failure to remit the funds has been making Zimbabwe an unprofitable ticket-issuing destination, a development which has seen various airlines suspending ticketing in Zimbabwe with many others giving notice of the same.
This none repatriation of IATA fees has reportedly affected fiscal operations of most airlines that have been ticketing in Zimbabwe.
According to government, the failure to repatriate funds is due to foreign currency challenges being faced in the economy on the back of low exports earnings against a ballooning import bill.
In his 2019 National Budget, Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube acknowledged the debt and the need to urgently address it as part of enhancing tourism in the country.
However, in statement, Proflight said owing to these challenges it is temporarily putting the service on ice up to the beginning of March.
“Proflight Zambia has temporarily suspended its service between Lusaka and Harare with effect from January 29.
“The airline expects to resume flights from March 1.
“We regret to announce that due to the current situation in Zimbabwe and ongoing challenges with the repatriation of funds from Zimbabwe we are temporarily suspending our Lusaka/ Harare route effective 29 January until 1 March,” said the company statement.
Airport transport is critical for the Zimbabwe tourism sector especially at a time when it is working on luring foreign tourists to help grow the depressed economy.
Tourism has been identified as one the four key-pillar of economic recovery together with mining, agriculture and manufacturing.
The cancellation of service by Proflight will likely affect some tourists coming into Zimbabwe from Zambia who had already booked the flights as the company said it will refund them.
Proflight director of government and industry affairs captain Philip Lemba said “ all passengers will be refunded in full for tickets purchased for travel during this period”.
Proflight Zambia which was established in 1991 is Zambia’s leading scheduled airline and serves for both domestic and regional routes.
Some of its regional routes include Durban in South Africa, and Harare in Zimbabwe and it operates a 50-seater Bombardier CRJ-100 jet, 50-seat Bombardier Dash 8-300, three 29-seater Jetstream 41 aircraft and two C208 Caravans.