A commercial KLM airlines flight powered with synthetic fuel carried passengers from Amsterdam to Madrid last month in a world first, the Dutch government and the airline has confirmed.

Development and deployment of synthetic and biofuel alternatives to kerosene are seen as key to longer-term efforts to reduce greenhouse emissions from aviation.

The KLM aircraft used regular fuel mixed with 500 litres of synthetic kerosene produced by Royal DutchShell with carbon dioxide, water and renewable energy sources, along with regular fuel to power the aircraft, a statement said.

"Making the aviation industry more sustainable is a challenge facing us all," Dutch Infrastructure Minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen said.

"Today, with this world first, we are stepping into a new chapter of our aviation."

Sustainable fuel will potentially make the biggest contribution to emissions reductions in new airline fleets, Pieter Elbers, who heads KLM, the Dutch arm of Air France KLM, said.

"The transition away from fossil fuel to durable alternatives is one of the biggest challenges facing the industry," Elbers said.