Proflight Zambia (P0, Lusaka) has announced the suspension of flights to Zimbabwe citing persistent difficulties in repatriating ticket remittances in hard currency.

The carrier said in a statement its 4x weekly Lusaka-Harare Int'l return service would cease from January 29 but may resume from March 1 onwards.

Proflight’s Director of Government and Industry Affairs, Philip Lemba, said affected passengers would be reimbursed.

Although they have not yet suspended service to Zimbabwe, multiple foreign operators such as British Airways and Emirates have already withdrawn full ticketing authority from the Zimbabwean BSP (billing and settlement plan).

RwandAir (WB, Kigali) took a similar step this week when it withdrew local ticketing privileges from the Zimbabwe BSP effective January 24. As it stands, tickets for the Rwandan carrier's flights must now be purchased in hard currency or using internationally-issued credit cards.

Zimbabwe is currently in the grips of its worst economic crisis since independence from the United Kingdom in 1980. Although the southern African state formally adopted a basket of foreign currencies as legal tender in 2009, a severe shortage of greenbacks coupled with the introduction of a pseudo-currency - "Bond notes" - in 2016 has led to severe distortions in the local money market.

While Emmerson Mnangagwa's government has insisted that there is parity between the US dollar and the Bond/RTGS dollar, a flourishing black market says otherwise.

According to the ZimBollar website, as at January 25, USD1 was the equivalent to 3.9 RTGS dollars or 3.6 bond notes. Given this growing disparity, Zimbabwe's effective inflation rate stood at 150.49% for the month of December 2018.