A Delta Air Lines pilot is suing the airline for stealing a crew messaging app idea that allows flight crew to send secure text messages with one another. Captain Craig Alexander says he spent $100,000 of his own money developing his QrewLive app and entered into talks with Delta about the platform until the concept was stolen by the carrier and integrated into a copycat app.
Lawyers acting on behalf of Alexander filed a lawsuit in Georgia state court on Monday demanding damages of $1 billion from the Atlanta-based airline for trade-secrets theft.
Alexander claims he started to develop the app several years ago and held several positive meetings with Delta in 2015 and 2016. According to the lawsuit, senior executives showed interest in acquiring his app because Delta saw the benefit of flight crew being able to talk to one another during times of disruption.
Negotiations to acquire Alexander’s app were, however, suddenly cut off and instead, Delta went onto develop its own crew messaging app that it calls Flight Family Communications.
The lawsuit claims FFC is a “carbon copy” and “knock-off” of the QrewLive communications platform. “To add insult to theft and injury, Captain Craig Alexander must use his stolen QrewLive text messaging platform every day while he works for Delta,” the suit says.
“Each time he looks at the FFC app, he is painfully reminded that Delta stole his proprietary trade secrets, used them to Delta’s enormous financial benefit.”
Alexander believes the savings that Delta has made by using the app “conservatively exceeds $1 billion,” based on operational cost savings. Delta chief executive Ed Bastian has spoken highly of the app in managing disruption according to the lawsuit.
A spokesperson for Delta says the airline takes the allegations seriously but argues that “they are not an accurate or fair description of Delta’s development of its internal crew messaging platform.”
Captain Craig Alexander continues to work for Delta.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.