By Alwyn Scott

SEATTLE (Reuters) - Boeing Co said on Thursday it is confident its new 737 MAX passenger jet will burn 13 percent less fuel than current 737 models, a figure that exceeds earlier estimates.

At a press briefing, Boeing said its forecast is based on computer models and wind tunnel tests. The plane is due to enter production in 2015 and be delivered to customers in 2017. The 737 MAX is the latest narrow-body plane by Boeing and competes with the A320neo made by Airbus .

Boeing said it expects to publish a "firm configuration" for the MAX in July. The planemaker is already reorganizing the massive 737 factory in Renton, Washington, to make room for production of initial 737 MAX test planes in 2015. The first flight and flight testing are scheduled to occur in 2016.

Airbus launched its aircraft about nine months before Boeing and has about 2,125 firm orders for its A320neo family of planes, compared with 1,376 firm orders for the 737 MAX.

"I think it's still early," said Keith Leverkuhn, vice president and general manager of the 737 MAX program. "We're very confident ... that the market share will actually reach parity over time."

(Reporting by Alwyn Scott; Writing by Ben Berkowitz; Editing by Kenneth Barry and Richard Chang)

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