'The Hobbit' dragon Smaug takes flight with Air New Zealand

(Facebook/Air New Zealand)

(Facebook/Air New Zealand)

Relaxnews

, Last Updated: 9:14 AM ET

Air New Zealand continues to ride on the coattails of the cinematic success of "The Hobbit" with the unveiling of a Boeing aircraft emblazoned nose to tail with the image of the villainous dragon Smaug.

Unveiled December 2 in Auckland, the Boeing 777-300 features a replica of the fearsome dragon as it appears in "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug," the second installation of Kiwi filmmaker Peter Jackson's trilogy.

The aircraft left for Los Angeles Monday and was scheduled to land in in time for the Tinseltown film premiere.

According to Tourism New Zealand, 82 percent of international survey respondents stated that the campaign around "The Hobbit" increased their interest in New Zealand as a travel destination.

Air New Zealand has been capitalizing heavily on the film in its marketing strategy, creating in-flight safety demonstrations and ads featuring hobbits, dwarves, elves and orcs.

This summer, American Airlines struck a partnership with Disney in a tie-up that saw the carrier score a cameo role in the film "Planes."

Taiwanese carrier Eva Air has likewise emblazoned a few of its aircraft with the most famous cat in the world, Hello Kitty, while Australian airline Qantas painted a moustache on the nose of one their aircrafts last month for Movember.


Videos

Photos