DUBAI: Emirates airline’s growth will slow until the end of the decade as the Dubai government invests billions of dollars in further developing the emirate as a global aviation hub.

“The expansion plan we have over the next seven years is going be a lot less [than recent years],” Anand Lakshminarayanan, Divisional Vice-President for Route Planning at Emirates airline, said on Monday.

Lakshminarayanan declined to state what growth the airline will be targeting.

Emirates fleet grew by almost 10 per cent with the addition of 24 aircraft and the number of passengers increased by 13.1 per cent with 44.5 million travelling with the airline for the financial year ending March 31.

Lakshminarayanan said Emirates’ growth will be partly constrained by capacity issues at Dubai International leading to 2020 when Dubai’s newest airport, Al Maktoum International at Dubai World Central, will have a capacity of 120 million passengers year at a cost of $32 billion.

“Peak hour slots [at Dubai International] are becoming more challenging,” he said.

Dubai International handled 66 millions passengers in 2013 and is currently lifting capacity to 75 million a year. By 2020 the airport expects to be able to handle around 100 million passengers a year.

Lakshminarayanan also said Ebola has been “the single biggest challenge” for the airline in the last few months. Emirates suspended services between Dubai and Conakry, the capital of Guinea, in April over Ebola concerns.

Last month, Emirates President Tim Clark said passenger traffic from Asia to Africa has dropped off.

But Emirates has seen some respite with fuel costs decreasing in recent months, Lakshminarayanan said.

The global average of jet fuel prices are down 16.5 per cent year-on-year to $105.10 a barrel, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Fuel accounts for between 38 and 39 per cent of Emirates airline’s costs, Lakshminarayanan said.