Current traffic at the airport is limited to 10 million and numbers are expected to pass the nine million mark for the first time in 2019, writes Olivia Rook.
A planning application has been submitted to North Somerset Council, which proposes new infrastructure, improvements to existing facilities, and operational changes.
If approved, it will raise the current cap on the airport to 12 million.
Under the new plans, the terminal will be enlarged, with additional space for passenger and baggage facilities. A canopy extension over a pedestrianised forecourt will improve the front of the building.
The number of on-site multi-storey car parks will increase to three, with a new loop road layout to improve traffic flow within the airport site.
An extension to the Silver Zone, which offers the best prices for on-site car parking, is also proposed to meet demand from passengers and help to prevent overspill into local villages.
These steps show the airport is working to the target of serving up to 20 million passengers a year by the mid-2040s.
A new planning agreement will mitigate the impacts of the application and is likely to include obligations around surface access, noise and other local impacts.
The airport has also sought to redistribute its cap on night flights, currently set at 4,000 annually, between the summer and winter seasons.
Dave Lees, Bristol airport chief executive, said: "Following consultation with the local community, airline customers, passengers and other stakeholders, these plans set out sustainable development to meet demand for air travel to and from the South West and South Wales over the next decade.
“They will help deliver more routes, destinations and jobs.
"These plans are a practical step to ensuring we continue to connect our region to the world, providing a gateway for business, investment and tourists.
“At the same time, we have sought to minimise and mitigate any impacts on the local community and environment, building on our track record of investment in surface access improvements."