WASHINGTON -- The CEO of International Airlines Group, the London-based firm created last year to operate British Airways and Iberia, on Tuesday touted more consolidation in the industry -- especially for longtime partner American Airlines.Willie Walsh, who had kind words for AMR Corp. CEO Tom Horton and US Airways CEO Doug Parker, stopped just short of a full endorsement of a merger between the two U.S. carriers. But he made his preferences clear."I genuinely believe consolidation is important," he told the International Aviation Club luncheon in response to a question from the Star-Telegram. "There will be another round of consolidation. American will be at the center of that," Walsh predicted, adding that Parker had "played it well" by making a merger with American a front-burner issue."Doug Parker will be at the center of that. He's forced the issue of consolidation," Walsh said. He said Horton's announcement last week that American would consider merger options even before exiting bankruptcy was evidence of the success of Parker's efforts, which he described as "aggressive."Walsh, who had supported AMR's decision last year to seek bankruptcy protection, said "I would not reject" a merger of American and US Airways. "I see some merit in it. I see merit in some other consolidation options, as well."My interest is making sure that it's the right combination for IAG," Walsh said. IAG, along with American Airlines, is part of the Oneworld alliance of 11 carriers. Later, in a scrum with reporters, Walsh elaborated, saying US Airways' network would be advantageous with American's.Asked about the benefits of American merging before or after bankruptcy, Walsh cited the advantages of a consolidation after exiting bankruptcy."From Tom's point of view," he said, Horton would have "a stronger hand to play. It's more efficient. That makes a lot of sense to me."Although some have criticized Parker for his aggressive stance, Walsh said, "if he'd done it any other way, we wouldn't be here today."Parker speaks today at the National Press Club.Separately, American Eagle's pilots union said it was meeting with US Airways management Tuesday and was invited to attend Parker's talk. The Air Line Pilots Association, which represents 3,000 Eagle pilots, said it planned to discuss Eagle's future in a potential US Airways-AMR merger.But the union leadership says a merger is not certain. It will also meet with Horton in the next few weeks."Because it is unclear at this time whether an US Airways/AA merger will occur and if so, the composition of the management team that will control the merged entity, we have also scheduled meetings with [AMR President] Dan Garton and Tom Horton to discuss the future of Eagle in both merged and stand-alone scenarios," according to a union hotline message for members Monday.In previous interviews, Parker has said he does not know what Eagle's role would be in a combined US Airways-AMR. US Airways already owns and operates two regional carriers: PSA and Piedmont.American spokesman Bruce Hicks said the airline looks forward to its discussion with the union.The pilots set up the meeting "to better understand the role of Eagle in our own exploration of all potential combinations or acquisitions, including US Airways, and we look forward to that discussion with them," Hicks said.Staff writer Andrea Ahles contributed to this report.