ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's civil aviation watchdog has ordered all air travellers to have their checked baggage shrink-wrapped, drawing scorn and criticism from frequent flyers and environmentalists. Shahrukh Nusrat, director general of Pakistan's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), said yesterday that wrapping baggage was now "mandatory", and it was being done for "safety" purposes. Passengers would have to pay 50 rupees (about $0.31) per bag for the wrapping, Nusrat said in a statement. "For this purpose, new plastic-wrapping machines are being installed on an urgent basis," he added.

Pakistan's frequent flyers 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 legalized corruption," one angry traveller tweeted. Asif Nawaz Shah, another social media critic, called the new policy a "corrupt profit-making endeavor".
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. 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. - AFP