For as long as I can remember, regional airlines (“commuters,” in my day) have been the internship for the industry. Their primary purpose of feeding passengers onto mainline carriers forces them to be competitive in order to obtain a viable contract with the majors. In that regard, compensation is at the bottom of their priority list. Regional salaries, especially for new pilots, have always been paltry compared to the rest of the industry. But the experience operating in an airline environment is invaluable.