You have boarded your flight and boarding is completed. The engines are running, so the plane can depart the gate any moment. But suddenly you see men in military uniforms approaching airport staff working by the plane. They order the staff to the ground.
Gunmen on the tarmac
You must have boarded Austrian Airlines flight 848 on April 9, 2019. The armed men in uniform aren't soldiers, but robbers. By breaking through a fire services entrance they reach the tarmac of Tirana International Airport in Albania.
How do the robbers know?
Thus, the robbers are well informed and take their chance to steal reportedly at least €2.5 million ($2.8 million). The key question is, of course, how they know that the plane also transports a lot of cash. But this question has not been asked.
Perhaps it is too dangerous to do so in Albania. It ranks 99 - out of 180 countries - on Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index. It is a tie with Bahrein, Columbia, Philippines, Tanzania, and Thailand.
Albanian police chase the perpetrators, who exchange fire with the police. One of the gunmen is shot death. Police arrest 4 of the robbers. According to the Albanian deputy prime minister Erion Brace they belong to one of the most dangerous gangs in Albania.
The flight's destination is Vienna, the capital of Austria. Due to the robbery, departure is delayed by 2 hours and 40 minutes. In the hold is a lot of cash that must leave Albania. The reason is that Albania's Central Bank doesn't accept deposits of hard currency from foreign banks operating in the country.
The Albanian Interior minister Sandër Lleshaj says that the government will immediately take strong and legal measures. For all the necessary safety parameters and standards at the airport must be guaranteed. But who will still have trust in the measures' efficacy?
It is not the first time that robbers strike at the airport. In 2016, robbers stole €3 million ($3.4 million) although not on the tarmac, but rather in the terminal. Most likely it will not be the last time either.
However, it may be the last time that an Austrian Airlines flight has been assaulted. The carrier has decided to stop the transport of valuable cargo to and from Tirana airport.
Tags: airport robbery, Albania, corruption, cash transport