Lauda back again in airline business

Three-time Formula One champion Niki Lauda said he was getting back into the discount airline business, buying a majority stake in the Austrian arm of bankrupt German charter carrier Aero Lloyd. Lauda, who launched an eponymous charter airline in Austria in 1979 and then sold it in 2000 to Austrian Airlines, said he wanted to launch a "discount airline with quality" with the two jetliners held by Aero Lloyd Austria. "Basically I believe we can start flying this year," Lauda told a news conference.

It would the latest in a series of sport and business comebacks for Lauda, considered one of the all-time greats of motor racing, who crashed so badly in 1976 at Germany's Nuerburgring that he was read the last rites.

Badly scarred, he was back on the circuit 42 days later to finish fourth in the Italian Grand Prix and the following year secured his second world title for Ferrari.

Lauda said he was personally putting up four million euros ($4.59 million) as start-up capital for the as-yet unnamed airline, which will fly to European destinations not yet served by discount flights from Vienna.

German airline Aero Lloyd, which flew passengers for travel firms TUI and Thomas Cook, filed for insolvency last month after its main creditor and stake holder BayernLB, Germany's biggest state-controlled bank, withdrew support.