Korean Air has apologised to Kenyans after offending potential customers with an ad promoting its new direct flight service from Seoul to Nairobi.

"Fly to Nairobi with Korean Air and enjoy the grand African savannah, the safari tour, and the indigenous people full of primitive energy." the ad on its website said.

The company came in for criticism over its promotional gaffe, which led to a flurry of complaints and sarcastic comments on social networking sites.

"Thinking of lion hunting today and maybe some elephant baiting to deal with my #PrimitiveEnergy," one tweet read.

"I use #PrimitiveEnergy every morning to rise from my bed," another user wrote.

Faced with a barrage of criticism, the state-owned airline also posted a statement on Twitter apologising for any offence caused by the ad.

"Regarding our recent promotional notice of Nairobi, we are checking on this issue accordingly. We sincerely apologise for this situation" a post explained.

Users found the message insufficient and asked for a more appropriate apology.

"After 'checking', it will be appropriate to issue an apology to ‪Kenyans on your website and mass media," a Twitter user wrote in reference to the airline's message.

"You'd better be thoroughly apologetic. We are not very pleased with our primitive energy," another added.

The airline has since removed the ad from its website.