JOUY-EN-JOSAS, France (AP) -- The head of Airbus' parent company said Thursday he's "very confident" in the European plane maker's case before the World Trade Organization, due to rule on a complaint that Airbus has benefited from illegal subsidies.
Boeing and Airbus expect to find out on Friday who won the first round in their epic trade dispute, when the WTO rules on a five-year-old U.S. complaint that argues European governments unfairly financed Airbus' climb to become the world's No. 1 planemaker.
"I'm very confident that our case is good," Louis Gallois, CEO of Airbus parent EADS, said at a meeting of French business leaders outside Paris.
He said that European governments are more transparent than the United States in the aid they give their planemaker, and that Airbus repays the reimbursable loans it receives to help it build planes, while Boeing gets subsidies.
He said the WTO process will be "long." The European Union will have six months to respond to Friday's decision, and has the option of appealing the final ruling, he said.
The U.S. says Europe gives Airbus what it calls illegal subsidies that give it an advantage in a market worth $3 trillion over the next two decades. The EU claims Boeing gets what it calls backdoor funding from NASA and the U.S. Defense Department. That complaint from the EU will be the subject of a second ruling expected in six months.