The boxship charter market is trending towards longer and higher rates, says Moritz Fuhrmann, co-chief executive of MPC Container Ships (MPC).

There is no better example, he argues, than the fixture by MPC of a handful of sub-panamaxes to Hapag-Lloyd at rates close to $20,000 per day.

The 2,800-teu Stadt Dresden, AS Carelia, AS Cypria (all built 2006) and AS Claudia (built 2007) have gone to the world’s fifth-largest liner operator for periods of one to two years at rates nearly 25% higher than they would have got at the beginning of the year. Periods are also longer.

The AS Cypria has been forward-fixed eight months ahead of charter expiry.

It will remain on charter until early 2025 after being forward-fixed on a contract starting early next year for a further 10 to 12 months at $18,500 per day.

In an earlier deal in February, the vessel was fixed for a year with Hapag-Lloyd at $16,750 per day.

Three other ships with prompt deliveries over the next four months have received $19,500 per day for two-year fixtures.

“The trend is very much evident,” Fuhrmann told an earnings call.

“Both rates and durations have increased significantly over the past few weeks.”

Fuhrmann has been promoted to co-CEO alongside Constantin Baack, who is poised to combine his current role with that of chief executive at MPC Capital, a Hamburg asset manager that is the Oslo-listed shipping company’s main shareholder.

The package deal with Hapag-Lloyd for the charter of four ships reflects stronger, longer charter rates across the sizes, Fuhrmann noted.

“For the larger assets in our fleet [over 2,500 teu], it’s fair to say 24 months is the new standard,” he said.

“And as we speak, we see continued enquiries from the big operators trying to secure tonnage matching the new dynamics in the market.”

The company has already concluded 19 of an expected 40 fixtures for the current year.

It has also forward-fixed four of the 17 vessels that it expects to charter out in 2025.

That was the result of a perfect storm in container freight and charter markets, according to Baack.

He flagged the impact of early peak season volumes and port congestion that has helped send freight rates soaring again in April and May.

Charter rates significantly increased in the past month and were ahead of expectations, Baack said.

As a resolution of the Red Sea crisis seems unlikely any time soon, the current dynamics in the charter market are likely to continue for some time, he added.