Russian domestic airlines are seeking to extend the lifespan of their fleets in an effort to overcome problems posed by Western sanctions triggered by the Ukraine conflict. Since Western countries imposed sweeping economic sanctions on Russia, airlines have struggled to acquire imported spare parts and up-to-date software for their jets. Several recent incidents have highlighted mounting concerns around passenger safety. Unable to secure Western parts for some of their planes, Russian companies have resorted to cannibalising their existing fleet — grounding planes to strip them for parts. Angara Airlines representative Sergei Zorin urged regulators to extend the lifespan of the country’s ageing Soviet-made Antonov aircraft. One quarter of Antonovs — which are on average 50 years old — are due to be grounded in around five years, according to current rules, he added. Speaking during a meeting with officials on Wednesday, Zorin asked them to “prolong the operation of An-24 and An-26” aircraft, according to state news agency Interfax. More than half the 150 Russian-made planes operating regional flights in the country are Antonov type aircraft, specifically An-24s and An-26s, he said. Zorin also said more should be done to support the domestic production of aircraft. IrAero airlines deputy general director Sergei Krupnov said Russia’s industry was unable to keep up with demand from airlines needing to repair their ageing aircraft.