Foundation

Presidential Travel Update: Obama Heads to India

by Michael Tasselmyer / /

President Obama is currently in New Delhi, India, at the invitation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the Republic Day parade, which commemorates the adoption of India's Constitution. The trip is seen as a breakthrough in American & Indian relations as Obama will be the first U.S. President to attend the parade. An invitation to the event is considered perhaps the most important that the Indian government can offer to a foreign head of state.

The President will stay in India until Tuesday, when he and the First Lady will travel to Saudi Arabia to pay their respects to recently-deceased King Abdullah in Riyadh. They will fly back to Washington later that day.

NTU Foundation has conducted an ongoing analysis of Presidential travel abroad for several years now. By our count, this marks the second time President Obama has visited India and the third time he's been to Saudi Arabia since being elected to office. To date, President Obama has been on 38 trips to 85 countries (including repeat visits) and spent 150 days abroad.

Through the first month of their seventh years in office, former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton had both spent similar amounts of time overseas. President Bush had been on 36 trips to 93 countries over 143 days; Clinton had been on 34 trips to 86 countries, spanning 158 days.

As we've noted before, it's nearly impossible to estimate the full cost of the President's trips abroad -- which ential advance trips by security personnel months ahead of time, multiple cargo planes and ships for supplies, and an entourage of cabinet members and administrative support. However, we do know that it costs about $228,288 per flight hour to operate Air Force One, which the President uses to fly on any international trip. Assuming a 575 mph cruising speed, it takes about 14 hours to get from D.C. to New Delhi (including a refueling stop in Germany), and another 16 hours to get from New Delhi to Riyadh and then back to Washington. That means the trip will likely cost about $6.8 million for Air Force One alone.

And while NTU Foundation doesn't track domestic travel or its costs -- which is often written off by designating some or all of a trip as official rather than political travel -- readers may be interested in this visual summary of all of President Obama's travels last year, put together by The Washington Post.


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