Malaysia Airlines has unveiled a series of new digital initiatives including a new Facebook Messenger bot that enables customers to make bookings, payments and retrieve flight information.

According to the airline, the MHchat bot “delivers an experience just like with a real customer service agent”. Malaysia Airlines is the first carrier in Asia to enable customers to book and pay for flights through Facebook Messenger.

The new service is part of a wider digital push being made by Malaysia’s national carrier that also includes an MHguardian app that allows parents or guardians to track the travel of unaccompanied minors, along with a new customer service app MHfeedback that enables customers to share feedback from their flights anonymously.

“Our studies show a continuous trend of mobile-first in aviation,” said Arved von zur Muehlen, chief commercial officer at Malaysia Airlines. “More than half of Malaysians prefer to plan, research and book their trips via mobile. This just shows that passengers are more self-sufficient and that they want more control over their travels.”

A number of airlines have been rolling out automated bots on platforms such as Facebook Messenger that are able to provide responses to customers’ pre-flight queries.

In December last year, Singapore Airlines launched its Kris chatbot that provides information regarding baggage, check-in, online booking and travelling with infants. Other airlines that have launched chatbots include KLM, Finnair, Qantas, and British Airways.