Source: Bloomberg
Author: Tracy Withers

Air New Zealand Ltd., the nation’s biggest airline, will convert two aircraft into “flying billboards” for films based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, which are being made in the South Pacific nation.

The airline has signed a partnership with Metro Goldwyn Mayer Inc. and Time Warner Inc.’s New Line Cinema, it said in an e-mailed statement. The agreement includes painting two aircraft with film-related designs and producing a related in-flight safety video, the Auckland-based carrier said.

New Zealand’s government expects an increase in tourist arrivals as “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” and sequel “The Hobbit: There and Back Again” portray the nation’s scenery to global audiences. Director Peter Jackson, who finished principal photography on the films last week, also used New Zealand’s mountains and rivers as the backdrop for his Oscar-winning “Lord of the Rings” film trilogy.

Air New Zealand will repaint a Boeing Co. 777-300 for the first film which has its premiere in the nation’s capital city of Wellington in November. It will redesign a 777-200 for the sequel next year.

Editors: Chris Bourke, Brendan Murray. To contact the reporter on this story: Tracy Withers in Wellington at twithers@bloomberg.net. To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Bourke cbourke4@bloomberg.net