Emirates President Tim Clark says the move to the new Dubai World Central airport might still be possible by 2020. “If anybody can do it, we can do it,” he remarked on the sidelines of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) annual general meeting in Doha, Qatar. But he cautioned that it would be an extreme challenge to built an airport of the size needed for the Emirates operation.

The airline is struggling to continue its expansion because of the constraints the current Dubai International Airport has. “If there is one worry that I have then it is about the ability to grow as fast as we want,” he said. Emirates is currently expanding capacity at a rate of 16-18% per year and is fast approaching the capacity limits at Dubai International, where it is competing for slots with Dubai’s other government-owned airline, FlyDubai, amongst others.

Much more short term, Emirates is struggling with the current runway refurbishing work at its hub. The airline has grounded 22 aircraft, 10% of its fleet, until the end of July to limit operations. “We are not making much money at the moment and that won’t change until the end of July,” Clark said.

Emirates has already shifted all of the Emirates Sky Cargo operation, the freighter fleet, to Dubai World Central. That fleet will stay at the new airport even after the runway work has been completed.