AirAsia is keen to fly from New Zealand to Australia to connect with services to Asia, which could mean more bargain fares for holidaymakers.
The low-cost carrier's chief executive, Tony Fernandes, said he hoped to launch services this year.
The airline's international division, AirAsiaX, flew from Christchurch to Malaysia for about a year before pulling out of the route in May 2012 after suffering a sharp drop in demand following earthquakes in the southern city.
Fernandes said during a visit to Sydney yesterday that as direct flights from Asia to New Zealand had not worked, the best service could include a stopover in Australia.
"It's very real and I hope it will be done this year," Fernandes said.
The airline has an extensive range of Asian destinations from Australia including Bali, Thailand, Vietnam, Sri Lanka and Malaysia. Sydney to Kuala Lumpur flights were yesterday advertised starting at A$279 ($290) and Perth-Bali at A$129.
House of Travel commercial director Brent Thomas said the return of AirAsia would be welcome, as long as it was sustainable.
If the airline disrupted the market by forcing all airlines to heavily discount and then left after a short time, it would be bad for consumers.
"If it grows the number of people who are travelling then it would be good. If it's just a shift from one carrier to another then it wouldn't be, because someone's likely to be suffering and that's not good for sustainability. But in terms of opening up parts of Asia that would be good." He said AirAsia would most likely fly across the Tasman to Auckland, making that route even more cut-throat.
AirAsia offered cut-rate fares and operated modern planes, Thomas said.
"They are a quality airline with a low cost base."
Fernandes said yesterday the airline was on track to start turning around big losses in Australia.
In the past year it reported a loss of A$128 million before tax, compared with a $40 million loss before tax a year before.
The airline has also been hurt by the crash of AirAsia Flight 8501 last December into the Java Sea, killing all 162 people on board.
Auckland Airport was named best airport in Australia/Pacific for the seventh year in a row in the Skytrax World Airport Awards.
The global awards are voted on over nine months by 13 million airport customers and 112 different nationalities. Singapore's Changi Airport took the top award.