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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Virgin Atlantic Airways will start using General Motors Corp zero- emission fuel cell cars as limousines for VIP passengers in the United States, the latest move by Virgin founder Richard Branson to present his airline as the greenest in the market.

The scheme, unveiled by Branson and GM in New York on Monday, will put three of GM's Chevrolet Equinox hydrogen fuel cell cars into Virgin's limousine fleet in Los Angeles this month, ferrying its first class passengers to and from the airport. Three more are set to be introduced in New York later this year.

"Our mission to be the sustainable airline is clear, both on the ground and in the air," said Branson, introducing the scheme. Last month, Virgin made the first commercial airline flight partly using a biofuel mix made from oils of nuts and coconuts.

Billionaire Branson, whose Virgin Group spans airlines, a rail service, drinks, hotels and leisure, has committed to spending all the profits from his airline and rail business for the next 10 years on combating global warming by cutting carbon emissions.

GM, the largest U.S. carmaker, has also been inching toward a greener profile with its new electric and fuel cell vehicles, which run on hydrogen and emit only water vapor.

The company is currently testing 100 of its Chevrolet Equinox fuel-cell vehicles around the United States and is looking to get them in showrooms by 2012.

"GM sees this partnership as an important endorsement of our fuel cell and electric vehicle technology," said Larry Burns, GM's vice president of research and development, in New York on Monday.

(Reporting by Bill Rigby; Editing by Andre Grenon)
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