Planes of Lufthansa unit Austrian Airlines are seen at Vienna International Airport in Schwechat. File picture: Heinz-Peter Bader/Reuters

Budapest - Armed and masked men reportedly stole millions of euros from an Austrian Airlines passenger jet in the Albanian capital Tirana on Tuesday, before engaging in a deadly gunfight with police.

The men drove a van onto the airfield at Tirana Airport and threatened staff from an armoured security van at gunpoint as they were loading the plane. They then drove away with sacks of money, the broadcaster TV Klan reported citing police.

Around 800 metres away the robbers got into a firefight with police who were trying to stop them and one of the gunmen was killed. The others threw his body out of the van and managed to get away.

It was not clear how much money they stole, with local media reporting a sum of at least € 2 million (about R31 million).

At the time of the robbery all passengers were on board the plane, an Airbus A320, which was due to take off for Vienna. At no point were they in any danger, according to local media reports.

The plane took off for Vienna later, landing with a delay of two and a half hours.

Organised crime is a big problem in Albania, with authorities finding it difficult to penetrate the often clan-like structures used by gangs.

An armoured security van was last robbed at Tirana Airport three years ago.

dpa