The sign outside the car rental office says: "Back in 10 minutes."
It may be a misprint. "Back in 10 months," would be much nearer the mark.
The Thrifty, Hertz, Avis and Budget counters are all empty except for staff waiting for the customers who never come.
No passengers to the airport means no drivers from the airport. And no dollars.
Inside the terminal, customers for the Go Cafe have gone. In the middle of the morning, the only four there were wearing airport employee badges.
Four of five airport shops constructed in November remain closed, the barriers rolled down.
Acres of unused arrivals areas are cordoned off.
The skills of the police sniffer dog are barely used. He seems to be on an eternal purposeless walk with his handler.
The vibe in the Vibe airport hotel is not vibrant.
This is the quiet centre of an economic storm. The aviation industry has collapsed.
A terminal built to handle 22,000 passengers a day nowadays deals with less than 100.
Some airport staff have had their pay cut. Many, including security staff, have been "stood down".
The taxi rank outside the terminal is short and static.
One of the drivers, Sudhir Kumar, said on some days he earned as little as $4 - for the day. Other drivers said $18 for the day was typical.
Mr Kumar was on JobKeeper but when that runs out he thinks he will be be in big trouble. "I will have to stop my business," he said.
The man at the centre of this storm of collapsing incomes in a collapsed industry, Stephen Byron, said: "You can't leave these people as though they are throwaways.
"We know enough of them to know that they are doing it pretty tough and there's only one way to fix it: we've got to get them back to work.
Mr Byron is the managing director of the Capital Airport Group which includes the airport but also the Brindabella business park, Majura Park shopping centre and property developments in the city.
He exudes some calm but says the situation does get to him. Sometimes he admits to "getting a little short".
But he says he has a tight management team who watch each other's backs and who, as he puts it, "look out for each other".
There are 12 of them. "We listen to each other. This is uncharted territory and I listen to them," Mr Byron said.
One of his ways of switching off is the gym at 5.30 in the morning or cycling with a bunch of long-standing pals to Mount Coree, out on the western border of the ACT.
"I might ride up Mount Ainslie a couple of times a week," he said.
That has its benefit in that Mr Byron who has spent more than four decades in Canberra says he appreciates new and beautiful aspects of his home town.
"I've had a bit more time to reflect on that and how lucky we are," he said.
Work never really ends in that he takes it home from his office at the airport.
"It doesn't finish. It doesn't finish when you leave the office," he said.
"You are trying to solve a riddle so you do think of it at night."
That riddle is how to convince the authorities that the almost complete closure of an industry needn't happen.
There has to be some sort of management of risk so flying between places with little or no COVID-19 could be allowed, he feels. His aim is to have the industry operating at 25 per cent of its capacity, as the construction industry in coronavirus-hit Victoria is.
He identifies milestones - what he calls "digestible chunks" of time, with a plan to achieve an aim by the end of it. The beginning of October is the next milestone when there will be a reassessment of the state of the airport business.
He talks about "putting the business to sleep" until the crisis is over, presumably with a vaccine next year.
The end of the year is another milestone. "We do need to act with haste to get these people back into employment and connected so families are able to have holidays at Christmas," he said.
"I'm optimistic that the Federation can come back together."
He feels that the states and territories have acted in their own interests by closing and opening borders without thinking of the collective need to prevent an economy sinking to the floor.
"Every state is isolated and operating and making decisions separately so we do need to put the Federation back together. It's fragmented. People's lives - their mental health - is being affected by these shut-downs," he said.
You only have to walk around the airport to see the effect.
The Vibe airport hotel has only about half of its rooms booked at best, general manager Emma Hynes said.
"Occupancy has been in a downward spiral," she said.
The hotel has made its bookings policy more flexible so changing the date doesn't incur a fee. They are urging people not cancel but to postpone, even months into the future.
Some staff have been "stood down" but Ms Hynes said they were trying to minimise in the hope the hotel would "ride out the storm and come out at the other end".
She said people were "starting to gain confidence".
She may be right but it's not obvious in the wide and empty spaces at the airport terminal.