VIRGIN Australia has absolutely rejected claims it is in secret talks with Chinese aviation giants to build Tamworth's pilot training school.
According to national media reports, the project would be aimed at Chinese high school and university students and train 500 pilots at a time.
"The idea that we are in secret talks is completely untrue, and any suggestion that this is anything other than confidential, commercial negotiations would be wholly unsubstantiated," a Virgin Australia Group spokeswoman told the Leader on Friday.
Tamworth Regional Council has refused to comment on the matter.
The flight school was announced in Tamworth in October last year, when Tamworth Regional Council abandoned plans for a Qantas pilot academy and partnered with Virgin Australia.
I've always been parochial in my concern about the fingers of the Chinese government and where they go.Member for New England Barnaby Joyce
No mention of Chinese partners was made at the announcement and a Virgin Australia spokeswoman said it had not even been chosen by Tamworth council at the time a deal was apparently announced in Sydney.
Virgin Australia chief adviser Peter Cai gave a speech in Sydney in August where a pilot training project was announced by Hainan and Winbright.
Media reports said the launch was made exclusively to Chinese media. The pilot training project is "aimed at Chinese high school graduates and undergraduate students," a statement on Winbright Aviation's website reads.
Shocked by the claims, Member for New England Barnaby Joyce said the Chinese involvement has never been mentioned to him.
"I've read the reports, where the truth lies is something that needs to be determined," he said.
"We will not be setting up an air force base for the Chinese government.
"I've always been parochial in my concern about the fingers of the Chinese government and where they go."
Virgin has partnered with online institution Southern Cross University and the University of NSW China Association and media have reported the pilot training students would be 90 per cent international.