Today, President Obama will depart on his third international trip of the year, as he heads to Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, and the Philippines after making a public statement in Oso, Washington. The trip was originally scheduled to take place last fall, but the government shutdown in October prompted the White House to cancel.
The President will be away from D.C. until Tuesday, April 29, a total of 8 days spent traveling in and around the Southeast Asia region marked by several meetings with high-ranking foreign officials. According to the White House, the trip "will underscore a continued focus on the Asia-Pacific region and committment to his vision of rebalancing to the world's largest emerging region." The flight will take him from D.C. to Oso, then to Tokyo, Seoul, Kuala Lumpur, and finally, Manila. He'll head back to D.C. after that.
As our readers may know, NTUF keeps an ongoing log of Presidents' travel patterns, which we periodically update in order to provide taxpayers with a transparent accounting of how often the President travels abroad. Foreign travel is a necessary (albeit expensive) part of the job, yet there is a lack of readily available information for anyone who may be interested in how and when the President flies abroad. NTUF's study of these trends is offered in an attempt to fill in some of these gaps. We use information reported by the State Department combined with media and independent reports.
By our count, the President's 8-day trip to Asia will bring his cumulative totals to:
- Days abroad: 133
- Trips taken: 34
- Countries visited: 73
In 2014, the President has spent 14 days traveling to and from 10 countries on 3 separate trips.
Last month, we issued an update on President Obama's travels through his first five years in office, which showed he has spent more time abroad than other modern Presidents. Additionally, the cost per flight hour for Air Force One -- basically, what it takes to operate and maintain the President's primary means of air travel -- has risen to over $228,000 per hour, up from about $180,000 in previous years. Assuming about 38 hours of flying time during the flights to and from the cities mentioned above (and a cruising speed of 575 mph), that means the flight costs alone on this latest trip could add up to over $8.6 million.
Presidential travel necessarily entails substantial planning, logistical support, security provisions -- and, therefore, presents significant costs for taxpayers. NTUF's 2013 update delves into many of these issues and what we do (and do not) know about them.