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New 'mandatory' baggage-wrapping policy withdrawn after criticism from travellers, environmentalists

Updated July 21, 2019

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Passengers would have to pay Rs50 per bag for the wrapping, a wrongly issued notification had said  — Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons
Passengers would have to pay Rs50 per bag for the wrapping, a wrongly issued notification had said — Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

A Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) notification ordering all air travellers to have their checked baggage shrink-wrapped was withdrawn after much scorn and criticism from frequent flyers and environmentalists alike.

Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari notified the withdrawal on Twitter late Sunday night with an image of the revised notification.

"The incorrect notification withdrawn — as I had said this morning it was never a federal govt decision. Will ask to have an inquiry as to how and who in CAA put out such a notification. All bureaucracy should know that Federal Govt means Cabinet! This issue never discussed!" she wrote.

Earlier on Sunday, Shahrukh Nusrat, director general of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), had said that wrapping baggage was now “mandatory”, and it was being done for “safety” purposes.

Passengers would have to pay Rs50 per bag for the wrapping, Nusrat had said in a statement. “For this purpose, new plastic-wrapping machines are being installed on an urgent basis,” he had added.

Ironically, the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf's Jahangir Tareen was among the travellers who took to Twitter to express their distaste for the measure.

"Just came across a very illogical notification issued by the CAA. Forcing passengers to wrap their luggage is not on. People should have the right to decide whether they want their luggage wrapped or not. The notification should be withdrawn asap," he had tweeted.

Other frequent flyers had also cast scorn on the edict, suggesting it had been introduced to enrich an unnamed company tasked with doing the wrapping.

“What is the logic for this requirement ...if this isn't legalised corruption,” one angry traveller tweeted.

Asif Nawaz Shah, another social media critic, called the new policy a “corrupt profit-making endeavour”.

Others suggested the quantity of plastic that would be needed was wasteful.

“Why is the #CAA destroying the #environment,” tweeted Ayesha Tammy Haq, a lawyer and broadcast journalist.

Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari, however, said that the notification was "wrong" and that the federal government was "incorrectly mentioned" in it. She said that no such issue was even deliberated upon by the Cabinet.

In a subsequent tweet, Mazari wrote: "At a personal level I think it is an absurd decision and financially an unnecessary burden on overseas Pakistanis visiting Pakistan. I believe it is compulsory for those going for Haj as part of the "Road to Makkah" programme. But shouldn't be for all other passengers."

Luggage-wrapping machines are a feature at many airports in Pakistan — and elsewhere in the world — but are usually used by passengers to prevent theft by light-fingered baggage handlers.