Politics
              President Barack Obama, accompanied by first lady Michelle Obama, waves prior to boarding Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Monday, Dec. 9, 2013, before traveling to South Africa for a memorial service in honor of Nelson Mandela. ( AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
              President Barack Obama, accompanied by first lady Michelle Obama, waves prior to boarding Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Monday, Dec. 9, 2013, before traveling to South Africa for a memorial service in honor of Nelson Mandela. ( AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)   

Obama’s speech at Mandela memorial cost taxpayers $5 million

Photo of Neil Munro
Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

President Barack Obama’s 19 minute speech at Nelson Mandela’s memorial cost taxpayers at least $5 million.

That’s not counting any cakes and coffee he and his inner circle consume aboard Air Force One during the 18,000-mile round trip to Johannesburg, via Dakar, in Senegal.

The 28-hour two-way flight to the memorial will cost $5 million because the four-engined Boeing 747 costs roughly $180,000 an hour to operate, according to a May 2012 report by the Congressional Research Service.

The cost includes jet fuel and subsequent maintenance of the aircraft’s engines, electronics and hotel-class facilities.

Obama has been accompanied by the First Lady, Attorney General Eric Holder, national security advisor Susan Rice and confidante Valerie Jarrett.

However, Obama will get numerous free mementoes of his trip , including photographs of him telling the world’s dignitaries his personal feelings Mandela’s legacy and how it affected his own world-historic life.

The president’s extensive security details, including guards and armored limousines, are flown to his destinations aboard C-17 cargo lifters, based in Andrew Air Force base. These no-frills cargo aircraft are cheaper to fly, at roughly $23,811 per hour, according to one official report.

Sending just two of the C-17 aircraft down to Johannesburg on their slower, 30-hour trip would cost the taxpayers roughly $1.4 million. When Vice President Joe Biden travels abroad, he flies on Air Force Two, which is a converted Boeing 757. That aircraft’s costs are roughly $22,000 per hour.

At that price, Biden could fly to Johannesburg, deliver a speech, and get back for $616,000.

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