A Delta pilot has sued the airline for $1 billion, accusing it of trade secrets theft over a communications app he developed a few years ago. According to Bloomberg, Captain Craig Alexander pitched the QrewLive app, which he reportedly developed with $100,000 of his own money, to the company as a way for crew to easily communicate in case of disrupted flights. However, Delta turned him down and then launched what he says is an identical tool a few years later.
Alexander apparently contacted Delta CEO Ed Bastian back in 2016 after a computer system meltdown put all flights on hold and cost the company over $150 million. He told the CEO that he had a solution for issues like that, which resulted in several meetings with executives who gave him verbal assurances that they were going to acquire his app.
According to Alexander's complaint, Delta ended up telling him that his technology didn't fit its needs and ultimately launched its own Flight Family Communications app in 2018. He called the official Delta app a "carbon copy, knock-off of the role-based text messaging component of [his] proprietary QrewLive communications platform." As for how he decided to seek $1 billion in damages, he said it's "based solely upon operational cost savings to Delta, [which] conservatively exceeds $1 billion."
The plaintiff has been with the airline for 11 years and still currently works with the company. Delta spokesperson Morgan Durrant told Bloomberg in a statement: "While we take the allegations specified in Mr. Alexander's complaint seriously, they are not an accurate or fair description of Delta's development of its internal crew messaging platform."