With Cathay Pacific yesterday announcing that its results had plunged deep into the red for the first half, a layman's comparison on air fares seems appropriate. A Post staff member has been in the process of organising a ticket to Australia. He rang various travel agents for comparisons on the price of a return economy ticket for a 23-day trip to Sydney in early September. The Post staff member compared Cathay's price on the route with that of Singapore Airlines. The cheapest Cathay ticket price he was quoted for that time period cost around $8,900 for a non-stop flight, although one agent reached late in the day said he thought he might be able to organise an $8,420 fare. The ticket specified return to Hong Kong within 60 days. By comparison, he was quoted between $5,220 and $5,320 for a ticket to Sydney on Singapore Airlines - again on a 60-day return basis. Granted, Cathay has the advantage of flying non-stop to Sydney. But the Singapore Airlines flight involves only a 45-minute stopover at Changi Airport on the way to Sydney, and a 2.5-hour stopover on the way home. Sounds eminently worth saving $3,200-plus for. Little wonder, then, that the Post staffer chose to be wait-listed for the Singapore Airlines flight - even though there were plenty of empty seats on Cathay. For the record, Singapore Airlines in May reported a small profit rise to S$1.04 billion (about HK$4.67 billion) for the financial year just completed - despite the Asian financial crisis. Could there be a message in this for Cathay? The global ambitions of Microsoft, it seems, are not restricted to software. News reaches us that Mr Gates & Co are now offering a whole host of new products for lucky geeks. Microsoft marketers have ventured into the music business, putting out an easy-listening compact disc along with a training disc. The name of the compilation of works by Ray Charles, Dave Brubeck and other famous musicians: 'Music to Install Windows 98 by.' No doubt about it: there's no beating a spod when it comes to racy titles. And wait - there's more! A new brand of coffee has now emerged in Washington state in America. It has been imaginatively titled 'Windows 98 Roast', and no doubt is already being imbibed in copious quantities by Microsoft spods to keep them up through the wee hours as they devise their next computer programs. Let's hope this Microsoft product is full of beans and bug-free. It's a month today since the opening of Chek Lap Kok, so how are some Airport Authority types bearing up? None too well, if the words of one authority staffer yesterday are any guide. Wearied by a month of teasing, whining and shouting from irate passengers, the AA type confided that he deserved more money. 'We should be paid abuse allowances,' he lamented. Gosh - is there enough contingency money left in the Airport Authority coffers? If he was to be paid on the basis of $1 for every expletive hurled at him over the course of the last month, he'd most likely be a millionaire many times over. 'Red Passion'. It sounds like the title of a rather bad romance novel - but executives at Henderson Land and Coca-Cola are hoping to appeal to a much wider audience than simply fans of amorous fiction. Red Passion, you see, is - we kid you not - the name of the promotion the two companies are betting on to put the sparkle into property and beverage sales. The companies are giving the chance to win three apartments in Tseung Kwan O to people with enough red passion to drink 10 cans and one bottle of Coca-Cola. Yesterday's razzle-dazzle launch of the promotion was overloaded with Cantopop stars singing themselves red for the occasion. Even executives from the companies were talking with evangelical-style zeal about economic revivalism because of the promotion. Is the mix of Cantopop and Coca-Cola the starting point for a red-ical revival of the Hong Kong property market? Stay tuned. Good to see tact in advertising is alive and well. One newspaper's website features an animated graphic on an advertisement for a prominent computer corporation. The graphic features the words: 'Could rising sales sink your company?' The placement of this advertisement really couldn't be much worse. It is situated directly above a story headlined: 'Hundreds killed as Yangtze dyke bursts.'