airline taxes
This relates to the "taxes" that appear on each ticket you buy for air travel. You will often see fares advertised as "excluding tax and charges" or something similar. The latter part, "charges" was added relatively recently as many of the little bits that are added on are not taxes at all. The original idea came about as a country would charge a tax for arrival and departure - hardly unreasonable - the amount was never great and usually charged in US Dollars (or even the local currency). To avoid constant fare changes, it was agreed within IATA that for practical purposes, these taxes would be seperated out and charged as an addition to the fare. The "tax and charge" element on some tickets, now, can easily come up to £200 and in many cases, comes to a lot more than the fare charged.

With the fare war, airlines realised that more and more items could come out, allowing lower "headline" fares. As these amount were indicated by two letter codes, the travelling public are never really aware of what they are paying for.

COUNTRY NAME- FRANCE

TAX TAX
CODE NAME
1 FR1 AVIATION CIVILE TAX
2 FR4 AIRPORT TAX
3 QW PSC - DOMESTIC WITHIN FRANCE
4 UI VALUE ADDED ADJUSTMENT TAX
5 FR2 FISCAL TAX
6 QX1 PSC - EUROPEAN UNION SCHENGEN COUNTRIES
7 QX8 PSC - EUROPEAN UNION SCHENGEN COUNTRIES
8 QX2 PSC - EUROPEAN UNION NON-SCHENGEN COUNTRIES
9 QX6 PSC - EUROPEAN UNION NON-SCHENGEN COUNTRIES
10 QX3 PSC - EUROPE - NON EUROPEAN UNION
11 QX4 PSC - OVERSEAS TERRITORIES AND DEPARTMENTS
12 QX9 PSC - OVERSEAS TERRITORIES AND DEPARTMENTS
13 QX5 PSC - OTHER DESTINATIONS
14 QX7 PSC - OTHER DESTINATIONS
15 IZ1 AIR PASSENGER SOLIDARITY TAX

So, what are these "taxes and charges" ?

Let us take a look at a range of tax and charges applied by a particular country. Here is a list of the taxes applied in France:

Even here, further codes are used to identify codes. The FR tax is clear enough. It is a genuine tax. PSC stands for Passenger Service Charge. This is what you pay for using the airport. Interestingly, you are also paying VAT - How many firms claim this back - the UI element? IZ "solidarity" tax is the most interesting. This has been recently applied by the EEC and others and is your contribution to fighting green issues, global warming, health in Africa and generally saving the whale and other activities.  If you agree or not is non-negotiable.

COUNTRY NAME- THE WORLD

TAX TAX
CODE NAME
1 YQ SERVICE FEES FOR FUEL/INSURANCE
2 YQF FUEL SERVICE FEES
3 YQI INSURANCE SERVICE FEES
4 YR SERVICE FEES FOR FUEL/INSURANCE
5 YRF FUEL SERVICE FEES
6 YRI INSURANCE SERVICE FEES
7 AP1 SECURITY CHARGE

It does not stop here. Below are listed some of the global taxes that are applied, irrespective of the country:

These (upper right box) are certainly some of the more unusual charges that are applied. They are ones which you would normally assume are included in the fare. YQ tax - the fuel and YR - insurance. Normally, in a fare (as you find on rail and coach) you would expect that the petrol and insurance element would be included in the fare. The AP element is for the increased security cost since the 9th September attacks in the US - one would reasonably have thought that these could, by now, be incorporated. 

COUNTRY NAME- UNITED STATES

TAX TAX
CODE NAME
1 US1 US DOMESTIC TRANSPORTATION TAX
2 ZP SEGMENT TAX
3 US2 US INTERNATIONAL TRANSPORTATION TAX
4 YC US CUSTOMS USER FEE
5 XY US FEDERAL INSPECTION FEE
6 XA US APHIS USER FEE
7 AY US SECURITY FEE

FACILITY CHARGES MAY APPLY- USE PXC*CCC WHERE CCC IS CITY CODE

America (right) goes to town on taxes. Even the flaura and fauna gets a look in with the APHIS "user fee". Individual cities get a slice of the cake as well, which appears as the XF tax (usually followed by the city code and local currecy amount, for example XF2.5LAX4.25 which means that Los Angeles receives £4.50. 

COUNTRY NAME- UNITED KINGDOM

TAX TAX
CODE NAME
1 GB1 AIR PASSENGER DUTY APD
2 GB2 AIR PASSENGER DUTY APD
3 GB3 AIR PASSENGER DUTY APD
4 GB4 AIR PASSENGER DUTY APD
5 YO1 AIR PASSENGER DUTY APD
6 YO2 AIR PASSENGER DUTY APD
7 YO3 AIR PASSENGER DUTY APD
8 YO4 AIR PASSENGER DUTY APD
9 UB1 PSC - SECTOR ABZ - GLA
10 UB8 PSC - SECTOR INV - WIC
11 UB2 PSC - DOMESTIC DEPARTURES ABZ THROUGH LDY
12 UB7 PSC - DOMESTIC DEPARTURES LGW THROUGH SZD
13 UB3 PSC - DOMESTIC ARRIVAL
14 UB4 PSC - INTERNATIONAL DPTRS
ABZ THROUGH GLA
15 UB6 PSC - INTERNATIONAL DPTRS IOM THROUGH LTN ‡

On the left, we see what the UK charges. The only proper tax is the GB Air Passenger Duty. The UB tax is not described well, but essentially is your paying for the use of the airport. This depends on which airport you use. Heathrow being the most expensive with regional airports being a lot less. That said, fares from regional airports are usually a lot higher than the main airports of London, so this "benefit" is more than outweighed by the higher fares charged to regional airports.

What has to be noted, however, is that the tax you pay is an addition of country A (which you leave) and country B (which you are going to) - and this is then repeated for when you return.  Below is a booking for a trip, in Economy to New York. Taxes are first indicated by the generic letters, "XT" which means "total of all taxes and charges". As you will see £40 goes to the UK Government, £13.00 for using Heathrow, £15.40 to the US Federal Government, £2.60 for US Customs, £3.60 for the US to check you out, £2.60 "APHIS" (flora and fauna) £1.30 for more US security, £65.00 for the fuel and the XF tax, which you will see in this case amounts to £4.50 for the City of New York. A tidy sum.

1.1BUINESSMAN/A MR
1 VS 3Q 15MAR 4 LHRJFK SS1 0930 1310 /DCVS /E
**DEPT LHR TERMINAL 3 * ARRIVES JFK TERMINAL 4**
**PLSE ENSURE DESTINATION CTC TEL NOS IN EVERY BKG**
2 VS 26N 25MAR 7 JFKLHR SS1 0730 1910 /DCVS /E
**DEPT JFK TERMINAL 4 * ARRIVES LHR TERMINAL 3**
** PLSE ENSURE DESTINATION CTC TEL NOS IN EVERY BKG **

How do these apply on my ticket ?

5MAR DEPARTURE DATE-----LAST DAY TO PURCHASE 18FEB
BASE FARE TAXES TOTAL
1- GBP207.00 145.80XT GBP352.80ADT
XT 40.00GB 13.00UB 15.40US 2.60YC
3.60XY 2.60XA 1.30AY 65.00YQ
2.30XF
207.00 145.80 352.80TTL
ADT-01 QLXGB NLWMEG
LON VS NYC256.01QLXGB VS LON150.65NLWMEG NUC406.66
END ROE0.507796 XFJFK4.5
NONREF/NONEND/PENALTIES APPLY
NONEND/NONREF/VS ONLY/NO CHGS

By contrast, here is a ticket for a journey to Dubai:

1.1BUSINESSMAN/A MR
1 EK 8Y 15MAR 4 LHRDXB SS1 0830 1925 /DCEK /E 
WP«
BASE FARE TAXES TOTAL
1- GBP888.00 57.20XT GBP945.20ADT
XT 40.00GB 13.00UB 4.20AE
888.00 57.20 945.20TTL
ADT-01 YRTGB2/BT
LON EK DXB Q86.64 787.72YRTGB2/BT EK LON Q86.64 787.71
YRTGB2/BT NUC1748.71END ROE0.507796
EK ONLY/NONEND

Apart from the two UK based tax and charges, you can see the the UAE (United Arab Emirates) only makes one charge and is clearly marked AE (Arab Emirates) - Further, the amount is quite modest compared to the demands of the UK. Perhaps this is a good indicator of the state of an economy

Finally, just for fun (and another great contrast) below is listed a flight from London to Paris. I have listed applicable taxes above - work out what you are paying for and to whom:

1.1BUSINESSMAN/AMR
1 BA 302R 26FEB 1 LHRCDG SS1 0620 0825 /DCBA /E
2 BA 303V 27FEB 2 CDGLHR SS1 0745 0815 /DCBA /E
WP«
26FEB DEPARTURE DATE-----LAST DAY TO PURCHASE 18FEB
BASE FARE TAXES TOTAL
1- GBP57.00 59.90XT GBP116.90ADT
XT 10.00GB 13.00UB 8.40FR 6.80QX
0.70IZ 21.00YQ
57.00 59.90 116.90TTL
ADT-01 RNCLON2 VNCLON2
LON BA PAR65.97RNCLON2 BA LON46.27VNCLON2 NUC112.24
END ROE0.507796
NONREF/-NCLON2

In the example on the right, notice the relationship between the fare and the taxes paid...

Above - USA ticket - Fare and Taxes

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TXN** (code/ country) (Sabre Tax Entry)
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