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Updated: 23 min 41 sec ago

Odds 'high' that Sony will air 'The Interview' in some form

4 hours 41 min ago

Adriene Hill sat down with Wesley Morris, a film critic for the pop culture blog Grantland, to talk about the state of the film industry this holiday season.

Morris says he has plenty of choices at the movie theater this winter, but he's not interested in any of them.

"I've been calling it 'Dumpcember' ... you've got maybe 30 movies just dropped into the end of the year to qualify for awards," Morris says.

And then there's the Sony hack problem. Theaters won't profit from "The Interview" any time soon, but will Sony?

"Odds seem very high that video on demand or some streaming platform will be the primary way to see this movie," Morris says.

Attention, discount shoppers: The psychology of sales

4 hours 58 min ago

We are in the final throes of the holiday shopping season and by this time you have been bombarded with discount offers and sales: 20 percent off, 50 percent off, buy one get one free, no money down, etc., etc.

So how do sales work, psychologically speaking?

“Imagine that a new car is $30,000 discounted to $20,000,” says behavioral economist Dan Ariely. “So you say to yourself, ‘Oh my goodness this is really worth $30,000, [but] right now it’s $20,000.’ It gives you an extra sense of value."

And because sales are temporary they create a sense of urgency says Ariely. “It’s a short time thing and you better take advantage of this.”

But do sales actually get people to spend more? Or are they used to lure shoppers in, so that store gets its slice of a zero-sum pie?

“This is not just specifically for the holidays, but we’ve been finding over time that more than half of all shoppers are saying they want to spend no more than they had in the past,” says Amy Koo, a retail analyst with Kantar. “That puts a pretty firm ceiling on what they are willing to spend.” 

Sales are also a good way to get people in the door ... but what’s really important is that they come back again after the sale is over.

“While people may be spending the same, they are actually concentrating their spending on fewer stores, which make a big difference in terms of making sure you as a retailer try to secure the loyalty of the shopper,” Koo says.

Stores do that by offering programs that give deeper discounts to loyal customers.

There’s also the low-price guarantee. Walmart for example, has the Savings Catcher program. Shoppers scan their receipt, and if they find the same product cheaper at a competitor, Walmart issues a gift card for the difference, ensuring a return visit.

At an intersection in downtown Glendale, California, I met Lejaun Smith waiting to cross the street. He had a shopping bag in his hand, and I asked him if he’d been lured into the store by a sale, and if so, did that sale get him to spend more. “Yes, on both answers,” he said.

“Yes, spend more money and yes, get me through that door. And it works every time.”

The psychology of discounts and sales

4 hours 58 min ago

We are in the final days of the holiday shopping season and by this time you have been bombarded with offers and specials and sales: 20 percent off, 50 percent off, buy one get one free, no money down, etc., etc.

So how do sales work, psychologically speaking?

“Imagine that a new car is $30,000 discounted to $20,000,” says behavioral economist Dan Ariely. “So you say to yourself, ‘oh my goodness this is really worth $30,000, [but] right now it’s $20,000.’ It gives you an extra sense of value."

And because sales are temporary they create a sense of urgency says Ariely. “It’s a short time thing and you better take advantage of this.”

But do sales actually get people to spend more? Or are they used to lure shoppers in, so that store gets its slice of a zero-sum pie?

“This is not just specifically for the holidays, but we’ve been finding over time that more than half of all shoppers are saying they want to spend no more than they had in the past,” says Amy Koo, a retail analyst with Kantar. “That puts a pretty firm ceiling on what they are willing to spend.” 

Sales are also a good way to get people in the door ... but what’s really important is that they come back again after the sale is over.

“While people may be spending the same, they are actually concentrating their spending on fewer stores which make a big difference in terms of making sure you as a retailer try to secure the loyalty of the shopper,” Koo says.

Stores do that by offering programs that give deeper discounts to loyal customers.

There’s also the low price guarantee. Walmart for example, has the Savings Catcher program. Shoppers scan their receipt and if they find the same product cheaper at a competitor, Walmart issues a gift card for the difference, ensuring a return visit by that customer.

At an intersection in downtown Glendale, California, I met Lejaun Smith waiting to cross the street. He had a shopping bag in his hand and I asked him if he’d been lured into the store by a sale, and if so, did that sale get him to spend more. “Yes, on both answers,” he said.

“Yes, spend more money and yes, get me through that door. And it works every time.”

Why won't OPEC cut production ?

5 hours 41 min ago

Despite falling crude oil prices, key members of OPEC reiterated over the weekend that they intend to keep drilling and pumping.

Yesterday, the oil minister for Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s biggest and most influential member, indicated the cartel would never cut production. Analyst Bhushan Bahree at IHS Energy points out that the cartel’s last supply cut in 2008 backfired when competitors ate into its market. OPEC does not want a rerun.

Persistent low prices could benefit the cartel long term: They could cultivate a new generation of car drivers who drive more and alleviate concerns in the oil patch that global demand for oil may soon peak. Political concerns are also in play: OPEC's supply-king, Saudi Arabia, could see low prices bankrupting its key nemesis, Iran. If Tehran runs out of money to support Syria’s regime, as well as its own nuclear ambitions, Valerie Marcel of the Chatham House think tank says that would go down as a victory in Saudi Arabia.

Why aren't more urinals installed in homes?

7 hours 10 min ago

Nowadays, urinals – a somewhat primitive bathroom fixture – come in all different shapes and sizes. You can even get one coated in 24-karat gold leaf. And for the latest installment in our series “I’ve Always Wondered," we head to the men’s room to tackle one listener’s question.

It comes from Mike Dolan, who is in the military, but first and foremost, he’s a guy. “So my I’ve always wondered, why do you never see a urinal in a private home? I have a friend, my college buddy, who has four boys. That’s five males in a house, and they’re constantly flushing toilets and wasting all that water. And it’s like why don’t you just get a urinal?” Dolan asks.

Turns out they’re out there.

Marci Jones, manager of the showroom at GLS Plumbing Supply in Birmingham, Alabama, has sold a few on occasion. “It would be for the man-cave in the basement where the man’s going to be all the time, and this is something he’s always wanted in his home," Jones says, "and the wife says, 'OK, we’ll do it downstairs.'”

They remain uncommon fixtures in the home because “most women do not want urinals in their master bath,” Jones says.

Jones had some customers in the showroom, Terry and Eddie Higginbotham, that she used to make her point. With couples, the discussion about whether to put a urinal in the house usually goes something like this:

 “Would you like a urinal in your bathroom?” Jones asks Eddie. “Yes,” he says. “I’ve always thought about having one in my bathroom, because it does use less water. And it’s like a jet, it’s like, 'KUSHH!'" 

Jones asks, “What does the wife say?” On cue, Terry replies, “No.”

Homes with urinals are hard to find. I asked around and started getting odd tips, which brought me to the house of Al Troncalli. Grace Troncalli, Al's sister, inherited the house when Al passed away. 

“Look at this bathroom,” she says, “Is this the most gorgeous thing you’ve ever seen?” There is a urinal in here. And let’s just say Grace and a man she once dated appreciated it.

Even though they haven’t caught on in homes, urinals in some form have been around for centuries. The French even made them sound elegant. “The first 'pissoirs' as they were called, which were actually just barrels, were instituted under Napoleon III in the 1840s. This was part of his attempt to sort of clean up Paris,” says Andrew Howe, chairman of the history department at La Sierra University in Riverside, California.

Fast forward about 25 years to the United States, right after the Civil War. Howe says there was a huge population explosion, and workers took to the factories. Dumping urine by hand into rivers and behind bushes was impractical and gross. So in 1866 Andrew Rankin patented today’s urinal, which connected to a sewage system.

 “A lot of these factories and business owners put in bathrooms. And the urinal was much more space-saving than a sit-down toilet,” Howe says. “Much of the workforce was male, [so] urinals made a lot of sense.”

But wives were often making the decisions about the home, and why would they choose to have a urinal? Since it can’t replace a toilet, it was a luxury item ... one that many women still don’t like.

Back to our listener, Mike Dolan, and his buddy with four boys. Michele Marsden in Berryville, Virginia, is the mother of those four boys and says there’s no way she’d install a urinal in the house. “I think it’s ugly,” she says. “I think it’s absolutely ugly, yes.”

And she had a question for Mike Dolan. “I asked Mike if he’s ever cleaned toilets or if he’s ever cleaned a urinal,” she says.

The answer was no.

That brings us to the big question: Does a urinal save money? John Koeller, an engineer who studies the water efficiency of toilets and other fixtures, says a urinal won't save you much "in terms of the dollars on your water bill." While urinals use less water – as little as a pint per flush compared to a modern toilet that uses somewhere around 1.3 gallons per flush – a urinal would save you less than $40 a year.

Your best bet, according to Koeller:  “Get a dual flush toilet.”

It saves money, it saves water. And guys, it’ll save you grief from the women in your life.

Man behind 'world's largest instrument'

7 hours 41 min ago

For the past 25 years, Peter Richard Conte has gone to work every day in the women’s casual department at the Center City Macy’s in Philadelphia. But he doesn't sell designer denim or stocking sweaters. He tickles the keys of what is billed as the largest instrument in the world: the Wanamaker organ.

Considered a national treasure, the organ is 110 years old and named for John Wanamaker, the department store magnate who bought it for his flagship Philadelphia store. He had it shipped from St. Louis in 11 freight cars. The organ now has 30,000 pipes and thousands of keys, buttons, levers and pedals. To play it well, Conte must be equal parts musician and athlete. 

“It’s a difficult instrument to play,” Conte says. “There are so many things going on. It’s multitasking at the nth degree. Literally for a five-minute piece of music I will spend up to 20 hours preparing it on an instrument.”

As the Grand Court Organist, Conte performs twice a day, Monday through Friday during most of the year. But during the holidays, the frequency increases as does the spectacle.

“At Christmas time we get thousands and thousands of people into Macy’s to hear this instrument,” Conte says. “And it actually accompanies the world famous light show. Thousands and thousands of LED lights and it ends up with this incredible finale when all the lights in the trees come on and the organ plays a really wonderful arrangement of O’ Tannenbaum. It’s a thrill because you get to have these huge audiences every couple of hours in the store. I just love what I do.” 

Organist who brings 'world's largest instrument' to life

7 hours 41 min ago

For the past 25 years, Peter Richard Conte has gone to work every day in the women’s casual department at the Center City Macy’s in Philadelphia. But he doesn't sell designer denim or stocking sweaters. He tickles the keys of what is billed as the largest instrument in the world: the Wanamaker organ.

Considered a national treasure, the organ is 110 years old and named for John Wanamaker, the department store magnate who bought it for his flagship Philadelphia store. He had it shipped from St. Louis in 11 freight cars. The organ now has 30,000 pipes and thousands of keys, buttons, levers and pedals. To play it well, Conte must be equal parts musician and athlete. 

“It’s a difficult instrument to play,” Conte says. “There are so many things going on. It’s multitasking at the nth degree. Literally for a five-minute piece of music I will spend up to 20 hours preparing it on an instrument.”

As the Grand Court Organist, Conte performs twice a day, Monday through Friday during most of the year. But during the holidays, the frequency increases as does the spectacle.

“At Christmas time we get thousands and thousands of people into Macy’s to hear this instrument,” Conte says. “And it actually accompanies the world famous light show. Thousands and thousands of LED lights and it ends up with this incredible finale when all the lights in the trees come on and the organ plays a really wonderful arrangement of O’ Tannenbaum. It’s a thrill because you get to have these huge audiences every couple of hours in the store. I just love what I do.” 

Pope Francis is not feeling the holiday cheer

7 hours 41 min ago

Pope Francis gave his annual Christmas address to the priests, bishops and cardinals that run the Roman Catholic Church. And it wasn't all warm and fuzzy.

The pope chastised them for workplace ills that include office gossip, jealousy and pandering to the bosses, according to the New York Times.

It's reassuring to know these things happen pretty much everywhere.

FedEx and UPS do better this year, but Amazon lurks

7 hours 41 min ago

UPS and FedEx have spent a lot of money getting up to speed for this holiday season. And they’ve done well. But long term, they may need to do a lot better because Amazon is disrupting  the shipping business. The big carriers will have to think differently if they want to continue to compete, particularly if Amazon decides to get into the shipping game itself.

Price war brews over costly hepatitis C drug

7 hours 41 min ago

The biotech industry has reaped huge profits in recent years by developing custom drugs that treat a wide variety of conditions, including cancer and arthritis. The massive cost of some of these drugs has caused lawmakers and insurance companies to push back. So it was big news today when pharmacy benefit-manager Express Scripts announced it was switching to a new hepatitis C drug by a different manufacturer.

At around $84,000 for a 12-week course of therapy, Express Scripts dropped the drug Sovaldi and its maker Gilead Sciences Inc., in favor of a new hepatitis C drug offered at a discount by rival company AbbVie. Even though having multiple drugs to choose from is a good thing, some clinicians say exclusive arrangements, like the one Express Scripts brokered with AbbVie, are not always best for the patient. 

"We don't want to have our hands tied, to be told that we can only offer drug A or drug B, because there may be a reason that the one that's not offered may be preferable to the patient in front of you," says Dr. Robert Fontana, a professor of hepatology at the University of Michigan.

Reasons to donate to Marketplace

8 hours 32 min ago

Marketplace turned 25 this year. That’s 25 years of bringing you the news, the numbers and explaining how Wall Street affects your street. That’s also 25 years of providing a public radio news service, thanks in large part to support from our listeners. A program of the nonprofit American Public Media Group, Marketplace has a staff dedicated to providing compelling and relevant content, day in and day out.

Follow along below as Marketplace Tech host Ben Johnson and Marketplace Weekend host Lizzie O’Leary get their goofy on for a good cause: Inspiring you to make a donation. Help us reach our goal of 2,500 donors in honor of our 25th anniversary. Make a donation by Dec. 31 and your gift counts twice thanks to a dollar-for-dollar match by the Kendeda Fund.

How is anyone supposed to think around here with these thin walls?

Quiz: If computers are smart now, just wait

14 hours 12 min ago

Stanford University launched a long-term study of artificial intelligence.

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A new drug becomes the only option for some patients

15 hours 41 min ago

A newly-approved drug for Hepatitis C will be the only treatment covered for many patients whose employers use a company called Express Scripts for their pharmacy benefits.

Last year, Gilead Sciences Inc. introduced a highly-effective hepatitis C drug, with an $84,000 price tag. Those kinds of prices have been more common for drugs treating conditions so rare they are sometimes called “orphan diseases." Hepatitis C, on the other hand, affects more than three million people.

"These were orphan-drug prices for common diseases," says Steve Miller, chief medical officer for Express Scripts. "That’s just not sustainable."

The sticker price on the new drug, from AbbVie Inc., is just a tiny bit cheaper— $83,319— but Express Scripts has negotiated a discount.

The company says patients will benefit through expanded access to the drug, which has generally only been covered for people with advanced stages of the disease. 

On the other hand, the new arrangement limits treatment options for patients. It's too soon to tell whether that downside will be significant, says Jack Hoadley, a research professor with Georgetown University’s Health Policy Institute. AbbVie's drug was approved on December 19, just days before the Express Scripts deal was announced.  

"This drug is so recently approved we’re only going to be learning over time whether there are some patients this drug doesn’t work as well for," says Hoadley.

Express Scripts covers about 25 million people directly. It also administers drug benefits for another 65 million through health insurance plans.  

PODCAST: Prescription neutrality

15 hours 41 min ago

People argue for network neutrality on the internet, but what about prescription neutrality? More on the news that Express Scripts introduced an exclusivity deal with AbbVie's new Hepatitis C medication. And Freddie Mac reports there’s a shortage of rental housing, giving a boost to big investors who bought thousands of foreclosed houses on a bet they’d be able to jack up rents. Now they can. Plus, with the coming of the new year, Sony plans to roll out an Internet-based live-TV service on its video game consoles. It's called Playstation Vue, and it will initially have about 75 channels - ones we traditionally associate with cable, like MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon. The idea is to marry traditional cable with a cloud-based, Netflix-like user interface.

Sony plans to offer the first Internet-based cable TV

16 hours 41 min ago

The new year promises several new Internet-based streaming TV offerings that will look a lot like traditional cable. The planned services from Dish Network, Sony PlayStation and Verizon will be the first to offer bundles of live television channels over the Internet.

Sony Entertainment Network, separate from the film studio which is dealing with the aftermath of an unprecedented cyber attack, is the first out of the gate with its announcement of the cloud-based TV service PlayStation Vue. It began beta testing the service in New York in November, with plans to roll out the invitation-only beta to Chicago, Philadelphia as well as New York.

Sony says it will launch the service in the first quarter of 2015, but has not decided in which markets. It also eventually plans to make the service available on iPads and other devices.

The Playstation Vue is starting out with about 75 channels, such as MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon. Sony has not struck a deal with Disney but is in active talks. Disney owns ESPN, the sports channel which is a popular draw among a large portion of cable TV subscribers and commands the highest carriage fees on cable.

"They are under a lot of constraints. They have to pay a lot for content," says Colin Dixon, a media analyst at nScreen Media.

Dixon says Sony not only must offer enough channels at an attractive price, but also manage to attract a young demographic that is avoiding cable. 

"The young are much less interested in pay TV service than the rest of the population. So, it's going to be a challenge to get people to change," Dixon says.

Sony, though, says its challenge is different. Many PlayStation users do, in fact, have cable TV subscriptions, according to Sony, but rarely use them because they want a better user experience.

The company says it has not yet decided the price of the service, but promises transparent pricing without added charges and long-term contracts. 

The service's primary focus is not going after price-conscious consumers. Sony PlayStation is focusing more on improving the cable TV user interface by marrying traditional cable with a cloud-based, Netflix-like user interface, which allows for both live and time-shifted viewing, and recommendation lists.

Sony's Playstation Vue, once it debuts, is likely to face competition in 2015. Verizon has announced similar plans, and so has the satellite TV provider Dish Network.

Laura Martin, a cable and media analyst at Needham & Company, says Dish Network's plans in particular are significant, because it will be a pared-down, cheaper alternative to traditional cable.

"So, it's a way to go after the low-end of the market, which is the opposite of the Sony product, which is trying to cream skim the top end of the market," Martin says.

In either case, the new offerings aren't likely to threaten traditional cable TV, Martin says, but they will lead to big wins for one particular group. 

"The big winners here are the content owners," Martin says. "For example, Turner broadcasting used to have three or four new series a year. This year it has 12, because you can ... sell it to more outlets."

Apartment shortage forcing up rents

16 hours 41 min ago

Freddie Mac reports there’s a shortage of rental housing, giving a boost to big investors who bought thousands of foreclosed houses on a bet they’d be able to jack up rents.

Well, now they can.

Click the media player above to hear more.

The math behind healthcare's crazy inflation

16 hours 41 min ago

It’s easy to understand why the price for health insurance premiums has outpaced inflation by so much in the last few decades.

“There are more treatments, more medications, more therapies,” says Kathy Hempstead of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “There's just more healthcare services that can be applied to any particular clinical situation.”

The numbers are striking. In 1996, the average family premium ran just shy of $5,000. Adjust that $5,000 for inflation, and today it’s about $7,500. But healthcare premiums are a different story. The cost was a little more than $16,000 for a family, as of last year.

Harvard economist David Cutler says there's nothing wrong with spending a lot of money on healthcare, as long as you are getting what you pay for.

People want longer life. They want healthier life,” he says. “The unfortunate truth is we are spending a lot that is not contributing to that.”

When Cutler says a lot, he's not playing around. Many economists, Cutler included, say as much as $1 trillion of all healthcare spending a year is wasteful—That's about a third. But when it comes to premiums, which third are we talking about?

“Healthcare is probably unique in that it is so difficult to tell whether something is worth it or not,” Cutler says.

One thing we do know is that as premiums have climbed, people have paid more out-of-pocket. Ironically, Hempstead says, high prices should help make sure we're getting a better deal.

One of the things that does is it makes consumers look for value and to get providers to be as efficient as they can be and provide a lower cost service,” she says.

Federal health officials say in the last five years, premium prices continue to rise, but at about half the rate they were previously. No one knows for sure what's behind that. But pretty much everyone agrees when the first few thousand dollars of healthcare comes out of our wallets, we're going to do a better job making sure it's not for nothing.

Is cheaper gas an opening for higher gas taxes?

16 hours 41 min ago

Michigan has just put a new issue on the ballot for next year: hiking gas taxes. Many states in the last two years have raised or reformed gas taxes, including red states Wyoming and New Hampshire. And now low gas prices may provide additional political space to raise money for crumbling roads and bridges.

"There's a little more room to maybe propose increases in the gas tax, because the price has gone down so far," Norton Francis of the Urban Institute says. "But it really takes political will and leadership to tie the gas tax to infrastructure spending."

Federal money is drying up, as the national gas tax has remained at 18.4 cents per gallon. And more fuel-sipping cars on the road mean Americans are buying less gas to tax. Thus the urgency.

"When we see pretty fiscally conservative governors in states like New Jersey and Wisconsin either openly talking about gas tax reforms or at least not ruling it out right away, that says a lot about how serious this issue is," says Carl Davis of the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.

Men are from Mars, Scorching temperatures are from Venus

17 hours 11 min ago
$16,000

The average family premium for healthcare was $16,000 last year. Compare that to 1996, when the average ran just shy of $5,000. Adjust that $5,000 for inflation, and today it’s about $7,500. We take a look at why the cost of healthcare has blown inflation out of the water in the latest installment of the Marketplace Inflation Calculator.

3 days

It took 8 years for fathers in Hong Kong to win the right to 3 days of paternity leave (at 80% pay). But on December 18th, the government passed a law granting them the leave. As Quartz reports, Hong Kong has been attempting to fight a declining birth rate, which up until now has been blamed on single women, otherwise called "spinsterhood."

7,370 people

That's how many lives have been claimed by the Ebola virus outbreak. Research published Monday morning shows that International Monetary Fund policies left Guinea, Libera, and Sierra Leone — the three countries worst effected by the virus — with a lack of funds and a shortage of doctors. As reported by The Telegraph, specific reforms pushed by the IMF caused an inability to cope with disease outbreaks.

18.4 cents

The national gas tax remains at 18.4 cents/gallon, in spite of the fact that gas prices have lately been plummeting. It's why states like Michigan are adding hikes in the gas tax to the ballot for next year. With Americans paying less tax per gallon, federal government may need the extra income to fund infrastructure spending.

30 miles

There's been a lot of attention on Mars lately, but what about our other neighbor, Venus? With a surface temperature of 850 degrees F, it's not ideal for manned exploration. But head 30 miles above land, and it's a slightly more manageable 165 degrees F. Even more intriguing is that at this distance above Venus' surface, the pressure is the same as Earth's at sea level. It's why NASA is saying it might one day send astronauts to explore Venus in blimps

Pilot shortage grounds flights at regional airports

Fri, 2014-12-19 14:15

At 7:30 in the morning, the terminal inside Cheyenne, Wyoming’s regional airport looks like a weary traveler’s dream. It’s quiet, there are no lines and there's even free parking. But Susan Mark is still tense.

“I’m just hoping there is a plane and a pilot,” she says. “Because I have had both not show up before.”

Fellow passenger Julia Tipsword says more than half the time her flight out of Cheyenne is canceled. She says the airline does accommodate her though — it puts her on a bus to the Denver airport.

These sorts of experiences may explain why its so empty here: Today’s morning flight to Denver has seven people on it.

Jim Schell is the Aviation Manager at Cheyenne Regional. He isn't surprised the flight is so empty. The number of daily flights out of Cheyenne has been cut in half in the last year, and cancellations have skyrocketed. Small airports need to have 10,000 people get on and off planes each year to qualify for the full amount of FAA infrastructure funding. For Cheyenne that’s $1 million annually. Schell says this year they won’t even get to half that many passengers, and as a result their federal funding is going to drop by about $800,000.

“[That money] is being able to reconstruct portions of our runaway when we need it,” Schell says. It definitely is a big deal, and it is not going to go away.”

Lots of small airports are on track to lose FAA funding this year, and that is going to hurt. In Wyoming alone, regional airports generate $1.4 billion in annual economic activity. The regional airports may be suffering but it is not their fault.

The problem is a lack of pilots.

A few blocks from Cheyenne Regional is Wings of Wyoming, a local flight school that used to train a lot of pilots that would fly for the local airline. But last year Congress raised the minimum number of flight hours needed for a commercial pilot license from 250 to 1500. Members were reacting to a deadly crash cause by an inexperienced pilot.  But that change has had a big effect on the airline industry. Building a few hundred hours to get hired at a regional airline was doable, says flight instructor Ron Burnett.

“But to get 1500 hours, that takes a long time. That could take a couple years,” he says.

Traditionally, young pilots joined regional airlines because they were a feeder system for national carriers. But Burnett says the new flight hour standards have upset that system by making it extremely difficult for young pilots to even qualify for a regional job.

Roger Cohen is head of the Regional Airline Association. He says regional airlines and airports are hurting now, but bigger cities are next. Cohen says about a quarter of the pilots at major airlines are set to retire in the next six years or so, and they're going to need to be replaced.

“And where are those pilots going to come from? The pipeline has not only been shrunk, the pipeline has been severed.”

There is some hope for small airports like Cheyenne regional: A House Republican has proposed a law that would require the FAA to keep them fully funded. That would help in the short term, but without a fresh crop of pilots, these airports won’t be bustling anytime soon.

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