BlueSky Airways (BKY, Gaborone) is looking to replace the 28 year-old B737-200(Adv) it leases from Flying Mission Services (Gaborone) with either a B737-300 or a B737-500 Managing Director Mark Spicer has told African Aerospace in an interview.

According to Spicer, the need for relatively 'newer' aircraft comes as the airline pursues its own Air Operator Certificate (AOC). Botswana's 2013 decision to recertify all locally-based carriers to International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards left Blue Sky in limbo as under the country's revised civil aviation regulations, A2-FMX (msn 23520) was deemed too old for commercial operations.

“We were informed that the B737, which we previously had on the registry, was no longer qualified because they put in a 22-year rule,” Spicer said.

Unable to secure a plane without an AOC and without a plane to complete its AOC, the airline has been stuck on Phase Four of its certification drive despite being awarded its Air Services Licence (ASL) in January of this year.

As such, BlueSky has been trying to raise funds to help secure a jet which would allow it to complete its AOC and thus commence revenue flights.

"It will either be a 737-300, or a - 500. We want to get two, so it might be one of each. We’re looking at a -300, a 1999 model that’s currently in the UK, and there are also two -500s that we’re looking at as well, but the -300 is my aircraft of choice. This would be a purchase.”

Should Blue Sky secure its AOC, Spicer says the airline would launch with three routes out of its Gaborone hub, one of which would be to Maun in Botswana's north with the others to Cape Town International and Johannesburg in South Africa.

Currently, Botswana's scheduled local market is dominated by state-backed carrier Air Botswana (BP, Gaborone) with rival South African Airways (SA, Johannesburg O.R. Tambo) offering strong competition on the regional front via its Johannesburg O.R. Tambo hub, located just 292km away from Gaborone.