UPDATE 1-Boeing CEO says interest in 777X is high

Wed May 22, 2013 11:35am EDT

May 22 (Reuters) - Boeing Co Chief Executive Jim McNerney said on Wednesday customer interest in the 777X wide-body airplane is "high and still growing," and he expects to formally launch the aircraft program later this year.

The company began offering the next-generation plane to customers May 2.

Ray Conner, who heads the company's commercial airplane division, said he had not given up on possible sales of the 777X mini-jumbo plane to British Airways, despite the airline's $6 billion order for 18 of Airbus' new A350-1000 jets in April.

"That game's not over yet," Conner told analysts at a Boeing investor conference. "Our intention is to win it."

Conner said British Airways had shown continued "very, very big interest" in the 777X, given the large number of 747s it currently operates.

Speaking at the conference, McNerney also said the 787-9X, a stretch version of the 787 Dreamliner, remains on track for a first flight this year.

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