At a time of the sequester, the White House isn’t exactly pinching its pennies when it comes to President Barack Obama’s travel, though they have played politics with tours of the People’s House and air traffic controllers. But according to a report from the National Taxpayers Union, the White House has spent over $15.2 million operating Air Force Once in just the first six months of this year.
“The long, near 18 hour, flight back from Tanzania marks the 14th overseas flight the President has taken this year (according to the White House schedule and news reports),” wrote Douglas Kellogg at Government Bytes, the National Taxpayers Union blog. “These trips rack up costs for taxpayers, and a conservative estimate by NTUF reveals the cost of operating Air Force One internationally this year is now up to at least $15,219,433.”
Kellogg notes that cost is limited to the actual operations of Air Force One. It excludes addtional aircraft and labor costs. He also takes a reasoned guess at the cost of travel for President Obama for the rest of the year.
“Estimating the potential costs of additional trips the President has planned for later this year is imprecise. However, applying the median cruise speed of Air Force One to distances for trips to Moscow, Indonesia, and Brunei, we can get an idea of flight times,” explained Kellogg. “This would bring the total for President Obama’s 2013 Air Force One costs to over $24 million.”
President Obama has spent 84.67 hours in the air this year, flying to locations including Israel, Jordan, Costa Rica, and Berlin. It costs $179,750 per hour to operate Air Force One. To put the $15.2 million in Air Force One operating costs in perspective, the high-end estimate to run White House tours is $3,848,000 per year.
The report comes from a recent study released by the National Taxpayers Union that anaylzed travel costs by Presidents. The study, Up in the Air: A Study of Presidential Travel and its Uncertain Costs, found that President Obama trails only George H.W. Bush in travel.