Less than a day after the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) announced its decision to make plastic wrapping mandatory for check-in baggage at all its airports, it retracted its stand after being widely criticised and facing backlash on social media.
“As per the decision of the Federal Government, all check-in baggage of International and Domestic Passengers are to be wrapped with plastic sheet at the initial stage of scanning at combined search counters of ASF, ANF and Customs,” the circular issued on July 19 read.
CAA Director-General Shahrukh Nusrat said that the measure was introduced for “safety” purposes and would be “mandatory”, as per news agency PTI. Passengers would have to pay Rs 50 per bag for the wrapping, Nusrat said in the statement.
However, soon after it became known that the decision was taken after the contract for wrapping was given to a company owned by retired Air Marshal Shahid Latif, a regular panelist on TV talk shows who speaks in favour of security institutions and the Imran Khan government, critics condemned the decision.
Following the backlash, the CAA issued a new notification on July 21 to declare that the earlier letter about wrapping should be “treated as cancelled ab initio with immediate effect.”
At a time when environmentalists and citizens are raising awareness on the harmful effects of plastics on the environment and marine life, such a decision sparked controversy.
But it is not only in Pakistan, many airports like the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Indonesia and United Kingdom’s Heathrow Airport use a highly stretchable plastic film commonly made from linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE) to wrap check-in baggage.
However, some airports, including the Terminal 3 of the Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi offer services like Secure Wrap stations which are located in the airport departure levels near check-in desks.
The stations feature a machine designed to wrap and protect baggage using a 100 per cent recyclable, non-toxic, tamper-resistant/evident plastic film in mere seconds.