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Amazon Go Considers Expansion To Airports While Facing Potential Bans From Cities

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Amazon is considering a new frontier for its autonomous retail concept as new legislation drafted by some cities could halt its growth entirely.

Amazon Go in Seattle
Amazon Go in Seattle

The e-commerce titan has made contact with Los Angeles International Airport and San Jose International Airport inquiring about bringing Amazon Go to its concourses, Reuters reports. Representatives from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport reached out asking Amazon if it would be interested in a deal, according to Reuters.

Representatives from the two California airports told Reuters that Amazon has not followed up since, and in all three cases, the company would be required to take part in a public bidding process in order to obtain a lease. That would be among the stumbling blocks between Amazon and the potentially lucrative audience of time-crunched travelers who may be interested in the store's prepared meals.

Other impediments could include the relatively small footprint of many airport retail spaces, since Amazon Go is interested in making its spaces larger going forward. But a more serious threat to Amazon Go's future comes from multiple city legislatures seeking to do away with it entirely.

New York City Councilman Ritchie Torres, a Democrat from the Bronx, has introduced legislation that would require all businesses in the city to accept cash, Fast Company reports. His reasoning is that businesses like Amazon Go, which require a phone connected to a credit card for entry, discriminate against those who cannot qualify for a bank account or credit card.

Mayor Bill de Blasio reportedly has expressed tentative support for the bill, which would ban Amazon Go's business model as well as that of the competitors that have popped up with their own autonomous retail formats. Of the thousands of stores Amazon is planning to open in the coming years, one is reportedly being planned in the city's Brookfield Place development.

Amazon Go already has locations open in Seattle, Chicago and San Francisco, but its expansion is threatened in cities beyond New York — councils in Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and even Chicago have introduced their own forms of legislation banning cashless businesses, Next City reports. New Jersey's state legislature is also considering a cashless ban.

In D.C. and New York, the legislation could be an early test case for Amazon's influence after the company announced that it would be splitting the 50,000-employee HQ2 between the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens and the National Landing development site in Northern Virginia, just across the river from the nation's capital.