While it seems pretty obvious that Qantas' latest inflight incident is unconnected to its A380 engine headaches, it still has disproportionate ramifications for the carrier.
The problem this time involved a Boeing 747-400 on flight QF17 from Sydney to Buenos Aires that had to turn back due to an electrical issue, apparently in the cockpit. The aircraft landed safely (the statement from Qantas can be seen here).
If it wasn't for the A380 dramas, the interrupted 747 flight wouldn't excite much attention in the international media. But coming so soon after the A380 groundings, as well as subsequent 747 and 767 flights that had had to turn back to Singapore and Perth, it has prompted a new wave of breathless reporting.
The airline was forced to address (and dismiss) reports that the 747 lost pressurization in the main cabin. Inaccuracies like that are not the problem for Qantas, though - the major question being asked in many of these stories is whether Qantas has a wider maintenance issue. And a general statement like that is a lot harder to dismiss.
Of course, the difficulty for Qantas is that every inflight incident is going to attract headlines right now, and links will be drawn whether they warrant it or not. The airline can say all it wants about how these occurrences (the 747s, anyway) are not uncommon around the globe, and stress its conservative approach to safety. But emergency vehicles on runways tend to overwhelm that message.
Qantas is fighting a public perception battle. And right now, it is a battle the carrier is losing badly.