IT MAY not trip off the tongue like the Flying Kangaroo, but RedQ is emerging as the most likely name for Qantas's latest spin-off, an ultra-premium airline aimed at executives travelling in Asia.
Qantas is attempting to trademark the name, which branding experts say borrows heavily on its heritage but is distinct enough to signal the arrival of a new entrant in the global aviation game.
The company has kept under wraps the details of its plans for the executive jet-styled airline, but Fairfax Media has learnt that Qantas's lawyers have lodged a range of trademark applications, including those for RedQ, RedQ Executive Express, RedSky and OneAsia.
Intellectual property specialists said Qantas seemed to favour RedQ Executive Flyer, because attempts were made in June to hasten its trademark process.
While red retains the connection to Qantas, it also symbolises good fortune and joy in Chinese culture. Although it will be based in Singapore or Malaysia, China will be a key market for the airline, which will have a fleet of 24 Airbus A320s within several years.
A director of the branding agency Principals, Wayde Bull, said the suggested names showed Qantas was trying to create something new but retain a link to the Qantas reputation.
Qantas considered more than a dozen names for its budget airline before settling on Jetstar.
"Qantas's brand strategy is becoming even more complex. They are seeking to create further brand names that have different price points than just Jetstar and Qantas," Mr Bull said.
However, Qantas could face opposition from its arch rival. Virgin Australia secured Red Jet as a trademark several years ago for the charity foundation it operates.
An intellectual property lawyer, Trevor Choy, said Virgin could oppose Qantas's attempts to trademark RedQ on the grounds it was too similar to its own Red Jet brand. Opponents of RedQ as a trademark will have three months from October to lodge their submissions.
Mr Choy said it could take Qantas as long as two years to trademark a name for its new Asian airline if it encountered opposition from other companies. The earliest the airline is expected to begin flying is late next year.
Qantas's corporate affairs chief, Olivia Wirth, confirmed it was assessing several different names - including RedQ and OneAsia - but a decision had not been made on which would be adopted.
Singapore Airlines has also tried to keep secret the name of its new long-haul budget airline - to be launched next year - but filings in Singapore show it has sought to trademark Scoot.