Air New Zealand's support of The Hobbit has gone sky high, with the national airline today unveiling its stunning flying billboard for the soon-to-be-released film.
About 100 people gathered at an invite-only function at Air New Zealand's engineering department at Auckland International Airport this morning for the unveiling of the 777-300 aircraft which is emblazoned with artwork promoting the The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
The plane will fly to Los Angeles tonight, before making its way to London.
It is expected to return to New Zealand by Wednesday so it can make an appearance during festivities in Wellington to celebrate the movie's premiere.
''This aircraft is going to excite passengers and fans of Sir Peter Jackson's award-winning cinema fantasies alike when it begins regular Air New Zealand services between Auckland, Los Angeles and London from this evening,'' Air New Zealand chief executive Rob Fyfe said.
''New Zealand is the home of Middle Earth and The Hobbit movies will be hugely important to New Zealand's tourism industry in the next couple of years as international tourists are inspired to come and see and experience for themselves the landscapes which have shaped the movies.
''We are thrilled to see so many international visitors booked to travel to Wellington for the world premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. We want them to experience the magic of Middle Earth as soon as they set foot on this aircraft.''
Warner Bros Pictures president of worldwide marketing Sue Kroll said: ''Air New Zealand has already proven their creativity and innovation with their delightful Middle-earth inspired safety video, and now this extraordinary aircraft wrap.
''We look forward to continuing to work with them in support of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in the months ahead.''
- © Fairfax NZ News
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