Air New Zealand launches Hobbit-inspired aircraft to take Peter Jackson and his cast to The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’s premiere in New Zealand.

Air New Zealand – which has deemed itself the “official airline of Middle-earth” – has unveiled its 777-300 aircraft painted in homage to The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

The plane will carry director Peter Jackson’s cast of dwarves, wizards and hobbits to film’s Nov 28 global premiere in New Zealand. Meanwhile, it is already offering regular services between Auckland, Los Angeles and London.

Among the first to check in was the great grandson of J.R.R. Tolkien, Royd Tolkien [pictured below].

Royd Tolkien

Considering the massive success of The Lord of the Rings trilogy and resulting boom in New Zealand’s tourist industry, Air New Zealand is wise to capitalise on the next round of “Tolkien tourism”.

Earlier this year, Air New Zealand released an airline safety video featuring characters from An Unexpected Journey. The company will launch a second flying billboard next year to commemorate the second movie in the trilogy, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

Air New Zealand Chief Executive Office Rob Fyfe commented: “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.”

Peter Jackson heralded the airline’s new addition, adding “it’s a unique representation of the innovation and creativity of New Zealanders and a great opportunity to show off the incomparably beautiful landscape of this country.”

Hobbit aircraft