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Whirlwind Diplomacy: $1.4 Million Flight for 8 Hours On Ground

Michael Tasselmyer
February 21, 2014

This week, President Obama flew to Toluca, Mexico to meet with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.

The President's schedule was jam-packed, as he not only discussed trade policy between the three neighboring countries, but -- as the Washington Post reports -- he also phoned the Prime Minister of Turkey, commented on domestic minimum wage issues, and publicly responded to ongoing political violence in Venezuela and the Ukrainian capital of Kiev.

In fact, at 9 hours round-trip, the President's flight to and from Washington took longer than the 8 hours he spent on the ground in Mexico. According to the latest estimates available, that comes out to just over $1.4 million worth of Air Force One hourly operating costs, a hefty sum considering less than a business day's worth of time was spent discussing trade policies with the country the President was visiting.

These shorter trips abroad are becoming more common not just for President Obama, but for other recent Chief Executives as well. As NTUF noted in our report on Presidential travel last year, during modern Presidents' first terms, the number of days abroad per trip has decreased during every administration since Jimmy Carter's, even as the total number of trips abroad has increased significantly.

The table below is taken from our report:


While Presidents are generally traveling more than they used to, it appears that long, extended trips are becoming less common.

Next month, President Obama will head to Europe for another whirlwind tour, stopping in five countries in five days: Netherlands, Belgium, Vatican City, Italy, and Saudi Arabia.


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