The British Columbian government and the federal government should start catching up to the rest of the world and embrace an open skies policy.

That’s the message the MLA for Richmond Centre delivered to a group from the Fort St. John Chamber of Commerce, Tuesday.

In his speech, Rob Howard discussed the benefits of open skies as well as certain misconceptions. He says the provincial government has been attempting to lobby the federal government to create a better open skies policy.

An open skies policy refers to a Bilateral Air Services Agreement between two countries that allows both countries airlines to send commercial flights into each other’s territory.

Some of the benefits of this type of policy include better flight choices for citizens as well as better flight prices and increases in tourism. It can also help cut down on travel time for citizens as they would potentially have fewer flights to take to reach their final destination instead of taking two or even three different flights.

He says one major misconception is that this type of air policy would allow foreign airlines to transport passengers within Canada rather than simply to foreign destinations.

According to Howard, Canada currently has nine open skies partners worldwide, whereas the U.S. has 17 in parts of Asia and Oceania alone.

He says having an open skies policy with other nations is reciprocal for each country’s national airlines. The agreement would mean that if a foreign airline is able to fly directly into a Canadian international airport, then a Canadian airline would also be able to fly directly into those markets.