FRANKFURT AM MAIN: German airline Lufthansa apologised on Monday (Jun 4) over a promotional video for the World Cup in Russia that was actually filmed in neighbouring Ukraine, which is locked in a tense dispute with Moscow.
The clip, which has been removed from Lufthansa's websites but can still be viewed elsewhere online, shows two Germany fans headed for Moscow determined to repeat everything they did in Rio four years ago when Germany were crowned champions.
The men imagine themselves shivering in summer attire on a rainy square and enjoying the "beach" on the banks of a river - with viewers quickly spotting that both scenes were filmed in the Ukrainian capital Kiev.
"We noticed in the first comments that this hurt the feelings of some viewers. We sincerely regret and apologise for this," a Lufthansa statement said.
"That is why Lufthansa at the weekend already removed the video from all social media platforms."
Germany's flagship carrier, which has dubbed planes flying supporters to the football extravaganza "Fanhansa", said the clip was shot in Kiev for "logistical reasons", adding that this was common practice for commercials.
But the choice of Kiev as a substitute for Moscow is particularly awkward with the two countries locked in a simmering conflict ever since Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.
Fighting between pro-Russia insurgents and government troops in eastern Ukraine has so far killed more than 10,000 people.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin was quick to jump on Lufthansa's gaffe, ribbing the company for "cheating".
"I can understand why Lufthansa preferred to film in Ukraine rather than Russia: it's beautiful here, and safe. But you shouldn't cheat," he tweeted.
"I hereby suggest that Lufthansa use the material it shot for a cool commercial about its flights to Kiev," he added.
The Lufthansa video, titled "As in Rio", can be watched here: