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Safe Destinations Thrive as Arab Spring Hits Tourism

The Arab Spring has resulted in a sharp drop in tourism in countries at the center of the turmoil, to the benefit of safe destinations in the region, experts say.

Major tourist destinations such as Tunisia and Egypt saw the numbers of visitors plummet because of uprisings last year that spread to other nations where confrontations with autocratic regimes turned deadly.

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IMF Applauds Australia's Surplus Plans

The International Monetary Fund Monday applauded Australia's plan for a budget surplus, saying it will help "rebuild fiscal buffers", in comments the government seized on as "a ringing endorsement".

Treasurer Wayne Swan is set to unveil one of the toughest budgets in years for the mining-powered economy on Tuesday, with deep spending cuts expected to meet a targeted modest surplus next financial year.

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Iraq Aims to Double Power Provision in a Year

Iraq aims to double power provision in a year, it said Saturday, in a bid to bridge a shortage that remains a key frustration for ordinary Iraqis, though the country will still fall short of 24-hour power.

Overall electricity supply, including domestic production and imported power, is projected to increase to 12,330 megawatts in April 2013, from around 6,000 megawatts currently, the electricity ministry said in a statement.

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Economic Woes to Weigh on Serbian Vote

Serbians vote Sunday in elections billed as crucial for their EU future by center-left President Boris Tadic, who faces a populist challenger in a campaign focused on jobs and the economy.

For Serb voters, it is the first election in decades to focus on economic issues rather than Balkan strife that led to international sanctions against Serbia.

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Debt, Down Market Drove Plane Maker to Bankruptcy

Economic turbulence has shrunk the market for business jets, and it's causing an especially bumpy ride for Hawker Beechcraft.

The Wichita, Kan.-based aircraft maker filed for bankruptcy protection this week, seeking approval for a plan that would write an estimated $2.5 billion in debt off its books and eliminate almost $125 million in annual cash interest expenses.

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Shell Cuts Nigerian Oil Output Over Theft

Shell announced Friday a significant cut in its Nigerian oil production due to pipeline damage caused by theft, and warned that it might not meet contractual obligations as a result.

"The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd (SPDC) declared force majeure on outstanding cargoes of Bonny Light with effect from noon (1100 GMT) today, 4th May 2012," a statement said.

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Rolls-Royce Expects ‘Good’ Growth in 2012

British aircraft engine maker Rolls-Royce said on Friday it expected "good growth" in sales and profits this year.

"Trading since the start of the year is consistent with the guidance provided in February," the group said in a short trading update.

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Air France-KLM Posts $483 Million Loss for Q1

Air France-KLM posted a net loss of €368 million ($483 million) in the first quarter of the year, saying Friday that high fuel costs and a continued drop in cargo cut into its profits.

The Franco-Dutch airline said revenue grew 6 percent to €5.6 billion, but that was not enough to offset the continued slide in the income column. The group made a net loss of €367 million in the first quarter of last year.

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Renault Nissan Pays $750 Million for Control of Avtovaz-Lada

Renault and its Japanese subsidiary Nissan announced a big step in the Russian market on Thursday, heading for control of the Lada brand to become the third-biggest auto force in the world.

The move by Renault Nissan to control Russian auto group Avtovaz, costing 750 million dollars, highlights the importance of the Russian market, the third biggest for the three manufacturers, after China and the United States.

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Qantas Delays Two A380 Deliveries Slashing $410 mn

Embattled carrier Qantas said Friday it will delay the delivery of two A380 superjumbos as part of a further Aus$400 million (U.S.$410 million) in spending cuts as it works to turn its business around.

The Australian airline had already announced Aus$500 million in cuts in February, which included job losses for cabin crew and pilots as well as in catering, engineering and ground operations.

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