Tough news for those at EV. It's all about low cost. Keep playing regionals against each other and keep outsourcing to the lowest bidder. Right now 9E is the cheaper ticket, but you can bet down the road it will sold off to the lowest bidder and removed as a subsidiary. Never ending cycle.
I get that sentiment, and agree with it to an extent, but I think the tide is turning in terms of how AA, Delta and United are approaching their regional capacity. It seems like the emphasis is slowly but surely shifting from "low cost" to "high value" - and those aren't the same thing. Just like what has happened at the mainline carriers, the confluence of scale economies, rising labor costs and lower fuel costs has created a scenario where operational reliability, service quality and profit efficiency are becoming greater areas of focus. And this is starting to manifest in the way those mainline carriers are managing not only their own flying, but also their regional feed. I think we see it in the operational controls Delta has pushed down to Endeavor (and its rumored desire to exercise greater control/influence at no-longer-wholly-owned Compass), AA's using flow to build an effective B-scale at its wholly-owned and provide a talent pipeline for mainline, etc.
Beyond all that, part of this is also just the natural evolution of consolidation - either through mergers or (effective) liquidations - at the regionals to mirror what has happened to their customer base (the mainline airlines). In that sense, I think we can view Comair as probably the opening salvo in regional consolidation in the same way that many today view USAirways-America West as the beginning of this latest wave of U.S. network consolidation. There are fewer U.S. network airlines, and for a variety of reasons including - again - scale economies, rising labor costs and lower fuel costs, they just don't need as many regional feeders.
It is, ultimately, all about cost - but not really, at least not "all." We have started to see mainline carriers sacrifice somewhat on cost with their regional feed if it supports other, broader, strategic aims related to things like overall network reliability, pilot staffing, etc.