A little over a month ago, Auckland Airport chairman Patrick Strange was circumspect but hardly downbeat about the company's performance.
Tourism had "cycled into a consolidated phase", the former Transpower chief executive said. Profits would be slightly less than he had earlier indicated, at around $265 million for the year to June 30.
The February 20 announcement, just over a week before the first confirmed case of Covid-19 in New Zealand, included some "preliminary assessment" of the impact of the novel coronavirus.
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From there, it escalated, almost with exponential speed.
On March 13, chief executive Adrian Littlewood cut the profit guidance to $210m to $235m, giving a more direct warning of the virus.
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"[It] has continued to evolve quickly with cases spreading rapidly across the globe," Littlewood said, predicting possible new border restrictions.
Three days later, Littlewood suspended AIA's profit guidance altogether. On March 17, he cancelled the dividend. The next day it revealed what looked at the time like spectacularly bad passenger numbers.
By March 20, Littlewood said it was assessing "increased border restrictions preventing most travellers from entering the country" and said the company was taking decisive action.
"We are moving quickly to cut operating costs, and management is reviewing the capital expenditure programme," Auckland Airport said, repeating the line a few days later.
On Wednesday, AIA issued a statement which looked like it was trying to say that the operation was a going concern but didn't quite get there.
"Mr Littlewood said Auckland Airport had taken steps to confirm its liquidity position and introduced measures to substantially reduce its future operating costs and capital expenditures," AIA said in a statement to the NZX.
Only after a series of requests did the airport "confirm our liquidity and solvency".
The statement appeared to go some way to answer another question that has been put to the company in recent days.
Littlewood confirmed a number of projects had been put on ice, including a second runway.
But what about the existing runway, which is in such bad shape that a Singapore Airlines flight was forced to divert to Ohakea, near Palmerston North? Was it using the drop in traffic to complete these critical repairs?
"The runway pavement works have long been planned, and we are absolutely committed to this project and working through the detail of when we complete the works, while maintaining safe and reliable airfield operations."
At the same time, shareholders in AIA had a strong week.
Between the close of trade on Monday ($4.63) and the close of trade on Thursday ($5.80), shares in Auckland Airport jumped about 25 per cent, a roughly $1.4 billion gain.
Shares opened strongly on Friday, but ended the day lower, as the NZX-50 went into another slide.
So how can a company which is worth so much appear to be in such a precarious position?
"It's all very well for Auckland Airport to say 'hey, we've got a runway that's falling to pieces', but if you don't have any money in the till to pay people, well, you can't really do anything about it, can you?," an industry observer said this week.
Auckland Airport's Thursday morning statement said it had "unrestricted cash of $340 million and an additional $485 million of undrawn bank facilities".
It did not say whether it was generating or burning cash, but acknowledged passenger numbers were close to zero.
Its interim report in February said it had $390m in loans falling due this year, part of its overall debt load of $2.3b.
Clearing that short term debt could require asking strained debt markets to assess its risk profile when it had almost no revenue. But if they do not, the short-term loans are still due.
Repaying the loans this year could require asking banks to extend credit, but the banks may ask difficult questions.
"They can ring up their banks and say, 'hey, we've got a facility', but the bank is going to say 'well, can you give us a solvency certificate and can you prove you're not in breach of any [banking covenants]?
"It's going to be quite difficult for a director to sign a certificate that says, 'yeah, we're tickety-boo."
Although AIA has made no mention of talks, there are signs that help might be on the way.
In the capital, Finance Minister Grant Robertson is sending signals, to someone, about someone.
"We are continuing to work one on one with very large businesses to see what might be possible there as well," Robertson told reporters in Parliament, without giving details, minutes after announcing a $6.25 billion business loan guarantee scheme.
A day earlier Robertson said Ministers "certainly are aware that some large companies are concerned" about their financial position, without giving details.
Longer term, passenger numbers will return. Economic Development Minister Phil Twyford and Provincial Development Minister Shane Jones are leading a response to find shovel-ready infrastructure projects to help boost the economy when the current lockdown comes to an end.
Auckland Airport is far from alone in its troubles. No doubt there are companies across the country, in all sectors, in all sorts of distress.
But airports are meant to be low-risk tolling operations, where the Commerce Commission has to fight hard against rent seeking. But they are all under severe strain.
Last Friday, Wellington International Airport, which is jointly owned by Wellington City Council and Infratil, an investment fund run by Wellington investment bank Morrison & Co, put out a statement of its own.
Because shares in Wellington Airport are not traded on a stock exchange, the disclosure requirements are far lower, so this was its first official statement on its performance. The warning was blunt.
"While the full impact of Covid-19 on both international and domestic air traffic is uncertain, we know it will materially impact WIA's revenues for an as yet unknown period of time."
Highlighting both "available bank facilities" and supportive shareholders, Wellington nevertheless warned that it was "deferring capital projects and is under strict cost management".
Christchurch International Airport was also reticent, saying nothing beyond its March 16 statement, a lifetime ago in the terms of the Covid-19 economic shock.
"Given the unprecedented scale of capacity changes announced today by airlines, we can expect these will have some material impacts on the operation and short-term earnings of CIAL, however it is too early to judge exactly what this looks like."
A spokeswoman pointed to CIAL's publicly available financial documents, which include the fact that $124m in loans are due to be repaid this year.
Questions of solvency may be interesting to investors, but the financial state of New Zealand's major airports have much more direct consequences both for the airport's employees, all the various employees at retailers which fill the cavernous shopping malls of travel, and also for the industries which have helped the airports grow.
Wellington Airport has previously said it spends around $1.5 million a week on capital projects. Auckland Airport's spend is several times larger.
Architects, designers, builders, engineers, all told in the past fortnight 'don't turn up on Monday'.
The situation is also a challenge to the councils which part-own the airports.
Wellington Airport has paid the Wellington City Council $11m-$13m a year in dividends in each of the past five years for its 34 per cent shareholding.
Christchurch Airport's dividends have grown from $7.6m in 2014 (a time of heavy investment) to $43.3m in 2019, three quarters of which goes to the Christchurch City Council (the Crown owns the remaining 25 per cent).
Although Auckland International Airport Ltd owns the smallest share of its airport (22 per cent) the rewards have been the largest, at $59.3m in 2019.
Solving the situation could deepen the issue.
If the Government steps up in Christchurch, the city's shareholding would be diluted, its dividend potential will be reduced, or both.
Wellington Airport's majority shareholder, Infratil, has been attempting to demonstrate financial strength this month, spending close to $3.5m buying back nearly 837,617 shares.
For Auckland, it could certainly go to the market, but doing so would in all likelihood dilute the council's cornerstone stake.
All of the councils are facing public calls not to raise rates at a time when many ratepayers are coming to terms with a new financial reality. As thousands of workers are facing a sharp fall in incomes, a hole is emerging in the councils' finances.