PARIS - China Eastern Airlines said on Monday it had agreed to buy 16 Airbus A330 planes, giving a boost to the European planemaker as companies compete to gain a foothold in the fast-growing market.

China Eastern Airlines said in a statement the average basic price of the aircraft in total was around $2.6 billion, based on the relevant price catalogue in 2007. It added the planes were due to be delivered from 2011 to 2014.

Shares in EADS, the European aerospace group which owns Airbus, were down 0.1 percent at 13.61 euros in early afternoon trade.

Both Airbus and its U.S. rival Boeing have been working hard to secure orders in China, where demand for planes is set to increase as the country's economy continues to grow.

Airbus' latest Chinese order comes a week after the CFM International aero-engines joint venture of French group Safran (SAF.PA) and its U.S. partner General Electric won a multibillion dollar deal to supply engines for China's future C919 plane.

China also has ambitions of its own in the aviation sector. In 2008, Beijing merged its own two state aircraft makers, AVIC I and AVIC II, to pool resources for a jet project to help wean itself from reliance on Boeing and Airbus.

EADS shares have risen around 13 percent since the start of 2009, having fallen 45 percent last year.