The Netherlands may be cruising to the quarterfinals at the World Cup, but in the world of air travel and press relations, the Dutch seem to be failing badly.
After Holland won 2-1 on Saturday afternoon, eliminating Mexico, the national airline KLM took to social media to celebrate the Netherlands' dramatic comeback victory, sending out on its Twitter feed a picture of an airport departures sign under the heading, "Adios Amigos!"
Next to the word "Departures" is the cartoon image of a man with a mustache wearing a sombrero.
The post immediately went viral, with A-list Mexican actor Gael García Bernal using not one but two expletives in a 140-character tweet telling his 2 million-plus followers that he'll never fly on KLM again. Amid the widespread online reaction, the post was deleted a half-hour later without an explanation.
"It was meant to be a joke," KLM spokeswoman Lisette Ebeling Koning told the Associated Press, adding that the airline never intended to offend Mexicans, which it serves via a daily direct flight between Mexico City and Amsterdam. "But there was too much negative reaction."
KLM issued a formal apology late Sunday.
"In the best of sportsmanship, we offer our heartfelt apologies to those who have been offended by the comment," said Marnix Fruitema, director general of KLM in North America.
For its part, Mexican national carrier AeroMexico is also getting in on the fun, broadcasting on Twitter its support for the country's soccer team under an arrivals sign.
"Thank you for this great championship," AeroMexico said. "You've made us proud and we're waiting for you at home."
Based on reporting by the Associated Press.