Air New Zealand has set itself a Kennedy-esque goal for achieving what will approach the holy grail in air travel.
The airline has said it wants some of its fleet using hydrogen to power electric motors to fly 50-seater planes to the regions by the end of the decade.
This week it announced a commitment to buy sustainable aviation fuel for long-haul flying from the owner and operator of a biofuel plant in this country, again with the ambitious timeframe coming on stream before 2030.
In 1961, President John F. Kennedy set a much different target, committing the United States to landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth before the end of the decade.
Some materials used to build the Apollo rockets had not yet been invented when Kennedy committed to the mission.
Today, the airline industry has many advantages to replace traditional kerosene with sustainable fuel within a similar time frame. The processes to produce the alternatives are well known and the technology already largely exists for use on planes.
It is not a giant leap into the unknown, so now is the time to urgently scale up the economic production of biofuel — most likely squeezed from woody biomass in this country — and hydrogen for planes produced from renewable electricity.
Sustainable aviation fuel has been around since 2008 when Air New Zealand ran a trial, but progress has been slow since. There has been much talk of sustainability but, with increased flying, the airline's emissions grew steadily in the decade before Covid struck, despite having more efficient planes.
The International Air Transport Association says more than 300,000 flights have used biofuel blended with regular aviation fuel — without the need for any modification of engines or aircraft — and production continues to grow.
But this is a drop in the ocean, it still accounts for less than 0.1 per cent of total jet fuel as it is up to four times as expensive. Airlines around the world have signed up to the goal of cutting emissions to 50 per cent of 2005 levels by 2050 and biofuel is the best chance of achieving this.
It is right that aviation and fuel industries take the lead to clean house but they can't do it alone. The Climate Change Commission has pointed out in its draft report that in other countries where sustainable aviation fuel is being produced, its use has been supported by public funding and other policies.
The commission has suggested grants or tax credits to improve competitiveness with fossil fuels. Air New Zealand has invited the Government to look at options such as production incentives and using a percentage of traveller levies.
For its part, the Government has been loud on the "nuclear-free moment'' but quiet on plans to help the crucial aviation sector contribute to cutting emissions across the economy.
A homegrown green hydrogen and biofuel sector could be a beacon in a world where even greater focus will turn on the environmental cost of flying here. That pollution footprint is especially heavy for the premium travellers this Government is keen to see fly here when borders reopen.
A world-leading sustainable aviation fuel industry could even help salve the conscience of Green MPs as they clock up air miles.
It would also help avoid charges that the Government record doesn't match the rhetoric - the ''blah, blah, blah'' that teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg so artfully called out politicians on this week.
The US hit the moon landing deadline with five months to spare. It's time for New Zealand to show that sort of boldness with sustainably powering aircraft into the future.