CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Although it might look easy, moving the president from place to place is no easy task. The 89th Air Wing is located at Andrews Air Force base, and it is responsible for moving the President from the White House to anywhere he wants or needs to go.
On Wednesday the 89th Air Wing said that taxpayers spend $179,750 to fly Air Force One for one hour. That cost covers the fuel, the sundries like paper good and toilet paper, and the maintenance.
Every year the cost is recalculated and sometimes goes down. Last year the flying cost per hour was $181,000. Crew salaries are taken from a different budget.
The Air Force says it is an unfair comparison to look at the cost to move President Bush vs. the cost to move President Obama, simply because things cost more now than they did in 2004, especially the fuel.
When the President flies for official duties, the cost is completely covered by the taxpayers. Because he’s the President, he is afforded all the security and support that comes with the office, but when he flies as a candidate for re-election, he is required by law to reimburse the government for part of the cost of using Air Force One.
There is a pretty vague formula used to figure out how much he has to pay back. The law says the President or Vice President has to pay a pro-rated share of the fair market value of a non-commercial flight, which means a private charter.
The White House says that cost is usually picked up by the Democratic National Committee or his re-election campaign.
Below is the exact wording of the rule the President has to follow regarding the use of Air Force One for political stops. See Chapter 10 on Page 68 of this link for a more in-depth explanation.
Presidential, Vice-Presidential and Senate Candidate Travel: Candidates for President, Vice-President and the Senate pay the pro rata share of the fair market value on non-commercial flights. 100.93(c)(1). The pro rata share is determined by dividing the fair market value of the normal and usual charter fare or rental charge for a comparable aircraft of comparable size by the number of campaign travelers flying on behalf of each candidate on the flight.6 The pro rata share is calculated based on the number of candidates represented on a flight, regardless of whether the individual candidate is actually present on the flight. A candidate is represented on a flight if a person is traveling on behalf of that candidate or the candidate’s authorized committee.
Click the video player to watch reporter Bill McGinty break down the costs associated with Presidential travel.