Within minutes of Holland’s 2-1 win, the airline published a picture of a departures sign – along with clip-art style graphic of a man with a moustache and sombrero – under the heading “Adios Amigos”. The post went viral but was deleted shortly afterwards.
Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal – star of the Motorcyle Diaries and Déficit – tweeted to tell his 2 million-plus followers that he would never fly with KLM again and hundreds of other people complained.
But a KLM spokeswoman said: “It was meant to be a joke but there was too much negative reaction,” adding that the airline had never intended to offend Mexicans, which it serves through a daily flight between Mexico City and Amsterdam.
KLM issued a formal apology late on 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.
Mexican national carrier AeroMexico broadcast its own response on Twitter in support of the country’s football team under an arrivals sign. “Thank you for this great championship,” it said. “You’ve made us proud and we’re waiting for you at home.”
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