Virgin Blue will have a new name by mid-year, and the odds are on it being either Virgin Australia or V Australia.
Neither is a sure thing, of course.
All that’s certain is that the airline will no longer be called Virgin Blue (the airline’s creative director Hans Hulsbosch says the colourful qualifier will be dropped as part of the rebranding) and that it’ll all be done by June 30th, according to this slide from a Virgin Blue presentation deck.
The next safest call is that the powerful Virgin name will remain as an highly recognisable anchor for the new airline.
It’s not just about continuity: Branson’s superbrand carries undeniable elements of flair and stylish bravado. From airlines and trains to records, gyms, and credit cards, Virgin has always oozed a sense of being daringly different.
That dovetails into the push by Virgin Blue CEO John Borghetti to cast off the established image of Virgin Blue as a low-cost cut-price carrier, take the airline upmarket, pit it directly against Qantas and win more of Australia’s corporate travel business.
And this makes Virgin Australia the front-runner: it’s strong, succinct and will allow Borghetti to play up best traits of the Virgin brand.
But it’s not a lock. Virgin Atlantic has rights to the Virgin name on international routes, and the airline is 49% owned by Singapore Airlines (Branson’s Virgin Group holds the remaining 51%).
And Virgin Blue’s tie-up with Etihad as the Middle Eastern partner for V Australia has effectively turned Virgin Blue into a competitor with Virgin Atlantic.
So it’s not a long stretch to imagine Virgin Atlantic, and especially Singapore Airlines, blocking Borghetti from turning the domestic Virgin Blue into the international Virgin Australia.
V Australia is the obvious fallback. A canny advertising campaign could easily hitch the stylised red V to the Virgin brand while allowing Borghetti to fully redraw the image of Virgin Blue with an even more dramatic and wider-reaching rebranding.
Will the new Virgin Blue be launched as Virgin Australia or V Australia, or something out of left field? We’ll know in little more than 100 days...
About David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.