Interesting question. Back in the good days at ACA (late 90s to 2001), I had occasionally heard mgmt tangle around a proverbial carrot that they were working on some sort of flow through between us and UAL. I never put much stock in it. Pilots at Eagle, COEX, and even DalCX (ASA + CMR) have IMHO much more of a right to it, since they are wholly owned. I remember at one point an Eagle j.seater told me the joke at EGL was that AMR owned 3 majors airlines (AA, TWA, EGL) - yet only treated one pilot group like they were a major.
It is ultimately my goal to end up at a major, and I think you'd find that 90+% of the guys at most regionals would give their left nut for some sort of guarantee/arrangement that they would eventually reach a major. Keep in mind their is no guarantee you'll ever get to a major - the interview/screening process is exhausting and I've seen many people who I thought were more than qualified get turned down. If, for example, your regional has some sort of affiliation that allows you to spend some time there and after some sort of predefined threshold (I believe at EGL and COEX it was 2 yrs as ERJ CA) advance to mainline, that is a great opportunity. Keep in mind the flow thru did blow up in EGL and COEX guys face because some ppl who had flowed thru 'flowed back' to the regional. In COEX's case, I believe some pure CAL furloughees made their way down to COEX.
It is an interesting debate. I would love the opportunity for my co to get one, but I know many ACA guys are equally opposed to it, for various reasons. There are some ppl making this place a career; once you hit about 250 on the seniority list, you're not moving up unless somebody dies or retires... From a UAL perspective, I know a lot of their guys would resent it because a lot of their newhires come from the military or other CA positions and wouldn't want to have to spend time at a regional before reaching mainline. Anybody else with more thoughts?
I think we're talking about two different animals here.
Animal #1: A staple. This is highly unlikely to happen at any major in the near (or far) future for the following simple reason. Let's say Airline X decides to staple their regional pilots to their list. A windfall for the pilots at that particular regional, and furlough insulation for the junior guys at Airline X. But suddenly applications at that airline go down drastically (If you'd already spent eight years at one regional not affiliated with Airline X, or ten years in the military, why would you send an application to Airline X knowing you would have to start all over again flying a micro-jet/Saab for another 5 years when you could apply to United, Delta ... and go straight to a Boeing?)
A lot of people at the regionals think that ALPA hires pilots. They don't. Airlines hire pilots. And if the airline isn't going to benefit from a staple (and it wouldn't) why would they approve one?
Animal #2: A flow-through. A good deal for senior people at the regional/junior people at the major. A way for airline management to keep a lower-paid work group with an inferior contract content (witness CoEx.)
It will never happen at ACA unless UAL buys us and if you think that will happen anytime soon ...
The trend in the industry is for majors to divest their regionals.
I hope the Connection wholly owned regionals do NOT merge with Delta. I came to an airline that has never furloughed a pilot, and with a merger, I would probably be gone. The Delta pilots who are furloughed picked Delta, and they could have come to Comair if they wanted to.
The arguement about military guys wanting to fly a Boeing instead of an RJ is totally moot. Some military guys go to SWA and fly 737's, and never get the chance to fly a heavy or widebody. The size of the aircraft doesn't matter, it's the pay and the benefits and they way they treat you that counts.