President Obama flew to Asia on Saturday. This is his third international trip this year and the 46th of his Presidency. This is the first time he has visited Vietnam, and it also marks his 100th visit abroad. From there, he will make his fourth visit to Japan to attend a G7 summit and to travel to Hiroshima.
Foreign travel is a necessary part of the President's job, yet, as we've noted in our ongoing log of Presidential trips abroad, there is a lack of transparency regarding a full accounting of the costs. For example, it has been reported that President Obama will be accompanied by an entourage of 800 people on this trip to Vietnam, and advance operations have scouted out the security arrangements at airports within the country, and a Boeing C-17 Globemaster III pre-positioned equipment and vehicles. While much of the security costs are kept confidential, the personnel, administrative, and accommodation costs are not readily accessible to taxpayers.
One thing we do know (thanks to Judicial Watch) is that it costs $180,118 per flight hour to operate Air Force One. The President flew from Andrews Air Force Base, refueled in Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage, Alaska, refueled at the Yokota Air Force Base in Fussa, Japan, and landed in Hanoi. Total costs so far on this for Air Force One calculated by NTUF are $3,554,329.* This figure is based on an average cruising speed of 500 miles per hour and flight hours as estimated by TravelMath.com.
During his 46 trips, Obama has now made 100 visits to 55 different countries. Obama needs just three more trips to tie President G.W. Bush’s total of 49 for second place to President Clinton, who took 55 trips. Obama will be headed to Canada in June, Poland in July, China and Laos in September, and Peru in November.
Related articles are available in our Presidential Travel archive.
* Update: This figure was revised from $3,350,195 on May 27, 2016 to include the additional refueling stop in Fussa, Japan.